Summary: The celebration of the birth of Jesus by Christians.
*Click to baby George photo
A. The Birth of a King (Prince George)
It seemed the whole world was waiting breathlessly for the birth of this baby.
This baby is Prince George, firstborn son of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
It is impossible to exaggerate the attention this birth received--before, during, and after.
It was a feeding frenzy for the news media.
The number of reporters competing for every imaginable scrap of news about it must have been like the plague of the locusts with reporters desperately scraping London for a news story.
It was an obsession.
For this was the birth of a king.
With things taking their natural course, this baby will one day be the King of England.
It is rather a hollow position, holding primarily ceremonial and diplomatic duties, with the governing functions being the purview of Parliament and a Prime Minister.
The family exists as royalty primarily to be celebrated and to put on the spectacular pageantry people so fervently desire to see.
But the British monarchy has captured the fascination of the world.
Every aspect of Prince George’s birth was extremely formal--programmed and formatted by the traditions of royalty to the nth degree.
B. The Birth of the King of Kings
Compare this recent birth of a king to the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
*Advance to Luke 2:4-7
Both births were anticipated and celebrated, but in very different ways.
Jesus was born to a betrothed peasant couple far away from home in Bethlehem where they had come to be counted in the census and pay their taxes.
Jesus was born in a place for animals—without ceremony or formality or instantaneous worldwide news.
With a few exceptions we will mention, Jesus’ birth went largely unnoticed throughout Israel and the Roman Empire.
C. Compare the way the births were announced
*Advance to tripod
-Rather than calling on the phone, the formal announcement followed royal tradition and was sent to Queen Elizabeth by a designated vehicle as she waited at Buckingham Palace. The Queen read it and passed the news to a footman, authorizing him to formally announce the birth to the world by placing this announcement on an easel in front of the palace.
*Advance to shepherds
-Rather than following a stiff tradition, angels appeared to shepherds near Bethlehem, announcing Jesus’ birth.
*Advance to black slide
II. Christians have a sort of schizophrenia about Christmas
-We rightly say that it’s not a holy day, or religious holiday, but still grieve that its commercialization robs it of its true meaning.
-Some say it has pagan roots and that even its Christian roots are from flawed sources, yet still observe Christmas.
-Some say we ought to celebrate Christ’s birth every day (since we don’t know the actual date of his birth), but it would be hard to find someone who celebrates his birth daily.
If we closely examine how Christmas is celebrated, we would find little focus on the incarnation of Jesus.
-Some worry whether Christians should even take any specific notice of the day to note Christ’s birth, yet object to the trend toward converting popular parlance from “Christmas” to “Holiday,” insisting that Jesus is the reason for the season.
-We deeply resent intrusion by any level of governments into the celebration, considering it abridgement of our religious freedom.
-It’s not my purpose today to address the questions about Christmas from a governmental or legalistic view (a legalistic approach generally conceals rather than illuminates the truth), but to:
1) help us clarify our viewpoints of the day, and decisions we make about it, and
2) get rid of any twinges of guilt we may have about our own practices in this festive season.
III. The Bible gives us Joseph’s and Mary’s fantastic story
…and shows us people celebrating his birth.
It is truly a lovely story
-Joseph and Mary were visited by an angel (Luke tells us it was Gabriel who spoke to Mary), saying that Mary had found favor with God, and that – although a virgin – she would bear a son conceived by the Holy Spirit, and he would save his people from their sins.
-Luke records Gabriel’s visit to Mary and his words to her:
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1:32-33)
-Mary was told that her aging relative Elizabeth was now in her 6th month of pregnancy.
-Mary went to see Elizabeth, and indeed it was true.
-Mary’s exultation at being honored to bear the Messiah in her body is preserved by Luke: