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Summary: God has good news for the underdogs, the outcasts and the lonely. The good news is that we can experience the joy, peace and hope that Christmas is all about.

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GOOD NEWS FOR UNDERDOGS, OUTCASTS AND LONELY

OPENING THOUGHT: Christmas… is it really the most wonderful time of the year?

• Many people find this season stressful and depressing. Remembering the loss of a loved one, or the pressure to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas can overwhelm people.

ILLUSTRATION: Typical of last minute Christmas shoppers, a mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three year old son was no longer clutched in hers. In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed flatly against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: "Look mommy! It’s Jesus - baby Jesus in the hay!" With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "We don’t have time for that!"

OPENING TEXTS:

“Wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.” (Isaiah 8:22, NLT).

• Isn’t this a picture of the world we’re living in today? Darkness, depression, despair?

“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever… The people who walk in darkness will see a great light – a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow.” (Isaiah 9:1-2, NLT).

• That light is talking about the coming of Jesus 2,000 years ago! (see Matt. 4:12-16).

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:1-6, NLT).

• Jesus is wonderful, counselor (knows how to help us), mighty (has the ability to help us), father (cares for his children) and peace (in the midst of our storms and darkness!).

THE BIG IDEA: God has good news for the underdogs, the outcasts and the lonely. The good news is that we can experience the joy, peace and hope that Christmas is all about.

THE CHRISTMAS STORY:

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21).

“1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

THE SHEPHERDS:

• They were religious outcasts and considered unclean by the Jewish religious law.

• Their jobs kept them from regularly attending church – like a truck driver or shift worker.

• They were social outcasts, constantly on the move, regarded with suspicion (gypsies).

• They were accused of being thieves.

• They didn’t have much contact with other people.

• Their job was lonely, wearisome, often boring, tedious and dangerous.

• They had hours with nothing to do but watch sheep eat grass (does that make you feel any better about your job?).

(some of these thoughts were inspired by a sermon by Alan Perkins on sermoncentral.com).

9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

• It is surprising then that these are the people that God chose to send His angels to, to announce the birth of Jesus! They were nobodies, outcasts, and underdogs.

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