Sermons

Summary: What to do when we are experiencing heartache at Christmas!

Heartache at Christmas

Luke 2:21-35

December 16, 2018

During this Christmas season, we’re talking about “Christmas Expectations.” We tend to enter the season with high and lofty expectations. We want magical, sugar plum visions of a Norman Rockwell Christmas. A Christmas where everything is just perfect!

But all too often this happens ~ VIDEO of FUNNY Christmas events. (45 seconds)

Not quite what we wanted, and sometimes our reality isn’t what our expectations were.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a Stanford professor of psychology initiated a study about delayed gratification that became known as the Marshmallow Test. They put 4 year olds in a room by themselves and the psychologist would pull out a bag of marshmallows, take one out, and put it right in front of that four-year-old.

They’d say, “I’ll be back in a little while, I’m leaving this marshmallow on the table in front of you. You can eat this marshmallow at any time. But if you don’t eat it, when I get back, I’ll give you two! But if you eat this one, it’s the only one you’re going to get.

Then the researcher would leave the room with the child all alone — sitting on that chair and staring at that marshmallow. They would be left alone for 15 minutes! It must have seemed like torture for the children.

The Marshmallow Test was a battle between impulse and restraint, desire and self-control. Some kids would immediately devour the marshmallow. Others would cave in and eat it after awhile, while some made it the 15 minutes.

The kids did all sorts of things to avoid eating the marshmallows. While I’m comparing our life situations to the kids, sometimes our lives mirror what the kids were going through.

We’re only 9 days away from Christmas morning! What are your expectations? Even more so, what are your heartaches that you may be dealing with? We have hopes of what should be, but what should be is not always our reality.

We may think about those who are no longer with us, those who are emotionally, mentally, spiritually wounded, we think about broken relationships. We wonder when our wounds will heal! Will anyone even notice I’m hurting. Will I finally be able to beat my addiction? How can I return to a healthy relationship with my kids, my spouse, my God?

How long will I be able to endure my family this Christmas! Will they accept me for who I am, I’m finally happy, but they won’t be.

AND how long until we eat and open presents!?

In some ways, the heartaches of Christmas we experience are like living in that marshmallow test. How do we survive and pass that test?

The greatest way to not only survive but to pass the test with flying colors is to embrace Christmas and what it really means. Can you embrace the reality of Christmas? Can you do it like a guy named Simeon . . . a man of God who waited and waited for the Messiah.

After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph go through all of the Jewish ceremonies, which included dedicating Jesus in the Temple, establishing their family before God. We find this story in Luke 2, beginning in verse 21 ~

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the Child, He was named Jesus, the name the angel had given Him before He was conceived.

This ceremony would officially confirm Jesus as Jewish. It’s what every Jewish parent would do when they had a male child. Joseph would announce His name as Jesus to everyone there. That was the first part.

The next verses describes what came next ~

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord

23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”),

24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Then 40 days after giving birth, according to Leviticus 12 they went to the temple in Jerusalem where they would offer sacrifices for Mary.

That was all very customary according to the law. Joseph and Mary are simply doing what the normal Jewish folks did. In fact, they were so ordinary and poor that they couldn’t offer a lamb and a bird. All they could offer were two birds.

They would have blended in with all of the other folks at the Temple. They were just two young parents among the crowd. But there’s another person in this story, it’s someone we don’t know much about. But he’s going to surprise Mary and Joseph in good and not so good ways. The story continues ~

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