Summary: Mary's four gifts - shephards, gold, frankincense, and Myrrh. You are that gift to the world. I have power point, video and song with this sermon. Be happy to share them.
All is at rest. It is quite now. As she lays beside her husband and her new born baby, she drifts in and out of a tired sleep. But when the baby stirs, she wakes. In the still of the night, she reflects the events of the past day. They had just traveled three days to her husband's home town. They know no one and worst than that, all the hotels were occupied. Someone allowed them to stay in their shack.
At the old broken down shed, she delivered her precious baby. Far from her home. Far from her friends. Far from her relatives. Far from her mother. She was 16 and alone.
She looks up at the roof and beyond the roof, through the massive holes in the roof are the stars. They seem quietly speaking to her. Yet they are so far away. She felt alone.
She looks over to her loving husband. He has tried his hardest to make things comfortable for her. He put fresh straws on the ground and laid it with his one and only coat. He is curled up shivering but being the loving husband, he gave his blanket and coat to make sure she is warm. Even with all the work, this is still a pungent smelly dilapidated shack.
She looks down to her brand new baby next to her. He doesn't have all the nice things that a baby should be showered with. No baby blanket. No baby crib. No little baby toys. Not even clothes. Joseph had to go into the streets to find something to wrap him in. He came back with some rags that people had thrown out. Rags!!!
"God, there is no one to talk to. People despise me because they think I had this baby out of wedlock. My friends have left me. I feel soooo alone."
She looks at her little baby as he stirs. She pulls him closer to give him more body heat. It is a cold night. Between the cold air and the sharp smell of the animals, she looks up again towards the stars.
"God, what am I doing here? I'm only 16 years old. I feel sooooo alone. I have no one to teach me what to do. No one to celebrate YOUR son's birth. I'm only 16. How am I suppose to raise this child all by myself?"
Tears rolled down her eyes and quietly sobs.
<<< Song - Breath of Bethlehem by Amy Grant >>>
Mary was not the first that felt that way. Two thousand years before her, a young man had to young man looked up at those same stars. This young man was in the Pharos's dungeon. He thought he was doing the right thing. But every time something good happens, he is beaten down even lower. He looks up to the stars in cries out: "God how much lower am I going to have to go? You made my brothers hate me. Then I am sold to slavery. Just when things started to go well, I am beaten down again. God, just let me die in this place. I cannot bear it anymore."
The Bible records many people in their lowest moments. Take Jeremiah. He was God's prophet. He spoke what God wanted Him to say. Because people did not want to hear what he had to say, they threw him into a tar pit. The tar was up to his chest. He was having a hard time breathing. He looks up towards to heaven and cries:
Turn to me in Jeremiah 20:7-8
7You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the LORD has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
Follow me to verse 14: Cursed be the day I was born!
May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
There are many others - Jacob, Hagar, David, Hosea, Isaiah, Daniel, Paul, John the Baptist - just to name a few.
The faithful have received validation and confirmation when they are discouraged. When there doesn't seem to be any way out, God gives His children a sign.
The Baker and the Butler
Joseph was given two servants of Pharaoh. Pharaoh was angry with his baker and butler, so they were thrown into Pharaoh's prison. The two of them had dreams they could not figure out. God gave Joseph the ability to interpret their dreams. Through this experience, God affirmed Joseph. God told Joseph He was with him. God did not leave him in destitute without encouragement. Joseph's situation did not change for another three years, but that incident gave him the affirmation he needed. And just the exact time he needed it.