Summary: In this second sermon in the series Discover the REAL Christmas we discover what is really valuable at Christmas. For Mary and Joseph, God’s grace, blessing and favor were worth more than anything!
My family had received a mailbox full of “valuable offers” every day this month. I can’t imagine the number of trees that sacrificed their lives so that I could be enticed with such valuable things as $200 belts, Christmas stockings for my kittens; toilet seat warmers...what a waste!
Can you remember that one item you really thought had value some Christmas ago? I mean the one that you assume was so valuable that you just couldn’t live without it?
I do. For me it was a Norelco Triple Head Electric Razor. I’m talking about the one that Santa used to ride around on in those commercials every year.
I was a freshman in High School just learning to shave and that Norelco Triple Headed Electric Razor was just what I needed. I remember even telling my Mom that Christmas would definitely NOT be Christmas if I did not receive a Norelco Triple Headed Razor. Well, to make a really long and pathetic story short (I made a real idiot of myself), I did receive a Norelco Triple Head Razor for Christmas...and...
It never really worked for me. I should have known something when a white-bearded man was trying to sell a shaving implement. I thought it was so valuable, but in the end it just wasn’t what I expected.
That, my friends, describes a lot of the stuff that’s being promoted as Christmas this year. Sure, it all looks so valuable, but after it’s unwrapped, after it’s experienced, we see that it’s of little lasting value. In many cases it’s harmful, hurtful and destructive. The very things we go after as valuable can often hurt us the most!
If we’re going to find the REAL Christmas this year we need to do some eVALUEating of our own. What’s really valuable?
Looking at the Christmas story in God’s Word we see examples of people looking for value.
My thoughts started down this path as I noticed certain words that kept showing up while rereading the Christmas story in the Gospels. I noticed that over and over words like pondered, thought, amazed, considered appeared in the text.
People were thinking. They were eVALUEating what was going on.
In reality we do the same thing. We are constantly scanning items at our internal check out stand to determine how valuable they really are. We are eVALUEating.
We eVALUEate everything!
Someone says something – we eVALUEate what they say.
Someone offers us something – we eVALUEate it. Is it worth enough to take, or keep?
We want something – therefore we have eVALUAEated it and it must be valuable; why else would we want it?
What’s really valuable? What’s really REAL about Christmas?
It’s hard to pick out the central character in the Christmas story. There is a whole ensemble of individuals who share equally in the events leading up to the birth of Christ Jesus.
All of what I call the positive characters in the Christmas story have one powerful thing in common.
Maybe if we start with Mary it will help to illustrate the real value in the Christmas story.
Let’s read a little of the story found in the Gospel of Luke.
26During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary.
28The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.” 29But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean. 30The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. 31Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High...
34Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God.
36Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months. 37God can do anything!”
38Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!”
When we talk about what’s really valuable, when we eVALUEate the REAL Christmas this part of the story stands out, one word in particular: grace.
“God has shown you his grace.”
Grace is a word we don’t use a whole lot anymore. We use another word instead, bless.