Summary: This sermon deals with the reality that Christmas brought disappointment to the lives of the participants in the first century and still does the same for us today.
Handling Disappointment At Christmas
Everything about the way the world celebrates Christmas gives the impression of a wonderful time of joy, fun, excitement, and happiness. The lights are beautiful, Santa is a jolly old fellow, and people are nice and friendly as they get into the Christmas spirit. The decorations in the malls and on people’s homes are fantastic, and the presents seem to abound with anticipation of smiles and delights come Christmas morning.
How many of you have discovered, that your past Christmases have not lived up to what the image of the world says it ought to be. Sure you had the external decorations, buy somehow the joy wasn’t there. Some of us lost our Christmas spirit real quickly when we gave someone a real nice expensive gift, and opened their gift only to recognize that it had come from the dollar store. Some of us were disappointed that we did not have any gifts at all.
Some of us had gifts, but then there was a big family fight after somebody had too much to drink. Some of us were hurting because someone we loved, never came home on Christmas. Some of us were sad, because it was our first Christmas after our divorce and the other person wasn’t there. Some of us felt really empty, because it was our first Christmas after someone we loved dearly had died, and he or she was not there on Christmas morning.
There are so many disappointments that can enter our lives at Christmas. God has tried to prepare us for them by giving us the real Christmas story in the Bible. If we read the word of God, we would see that the first Christmas was filled with disappointment, even when you do everything right. All of us should accept now, that “I am going to be disappointed this Christmas.”
Have you ever asked the question, “How could something so good, go wrong, so quickly.” One day you’re making plans for this wonderful moment, and all of a sudden it just seems to have blown up in your face, through no fault of your own. The Christmas story began 700 years before Jesus was born, when God spoke through Isaiah saying a virgin shall have a child, and He will be called Immanuel which means “God with us.” Now who would this virgin be.
God chose Mary. As we saw in our New Testament reading, an angel came to Mary to let her know that she had been chosen out of all the women in the world to give birth to Jesus, the Savior of the world. Mary let the angel the know, it could not be true, because she was a virgin. She had not had sex with anyone. The angel assured her, that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and she would get pregnant and Jesus would be born. Mary wanted to do whatever God wanted from her, and joyfully accepted the will of God for her life. By the time the angel left, Mary was pregnant, and she went away for three months to visit her relatives in the hills.
Now before the angel came to visit Mary, Mary’s family had been making plans for Mary’s future with the family of a guy by the name of Joseph. Instead of couples looking into each other’s eyes and becoming drunk with love, their parents discussed with each other plans for them to be married. Marriages were arranged for individuals by parents. The parents would discuss the terms of what if anything was to be exchanged and they would be in a formal contract. After the contract was reached, the couple would be considered as being married and called husband and wife.
However the husband continued to live with his family for a year and the wife lived with her family for a year. The waiting period was a time to demonstrate the faithfulness of the pledge of purity of the bride. If she became pregnant during this time, it was obvious she was not pure and had been involved in an unfaithful relationship. The marriage could be annulled. At the end of the one year period, the husband would go to the bride’s parent’s house, and in a grand march with many others, he would lead his bride back to his home. This would be there first night of sex together and the final steps of their marriage would be complete.
Now let’s imagine you are Joseph. You are a few years older than Mary. You know you’ve got a beautiful woman inside and outside. You love the Lord, and you love this woman. You’ve been looking forward now for some time, counting the days when it will be your turn to lead your friends down to Mary’s family house to pick up your bride and to have the night of your dreams. You talk about a man with some happy expectations, Joseph had them with good reasons. It’s been about three months since the last time you saw Mary, and she sends word, Joseph I’ve got good news. Let’s meet secretly together. Your mind is wondering, what on earth could she possibly have to say.