Summary: Preparing for Christmas; using FACT as an acrostic

“HELP – I’m Not Prepared for Christmas!”

December 3, 2006

“About this time Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the nation. (This census was taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration. And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, King David’s ancient home--journeying there from the Galilean village of Nazareth.

He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!"

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven," they sang, "and peace on earth for all those pleasing him." When this great army of angels had returned again to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on! Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." They ran to the village and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story expressed astonishment, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and often thought about them. Then the shepherds went back again to their fields and flocks, praising God for the visit of the angels, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had told them.” Luke 2:1-20 (Living)

About 5:30am Friday morning I woke up with the thought in my mind, “I’m not ready for Christmas!” And it’s like the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “That’s what I want you to talk about Sunday. The fact of the matter is that they weren’t prepared the first Christmas either!” I quickly got dressed, didn’t shower or shave, didn’t have breakfast, but jumped in the car and drove to my office to put those thoughts together.

Part of it was that Julie and I had been talking about how we are so not ready this year for Christmas. Julie is so busy working on a stain glass consignment she promised to someone that she isn’t going to be able to send out Christmas cards or decorate the house as usual or even have open house as we normally do. If any of that is to be done – I’m going to have to find time to do it. That’s just a fact. We have to deal with it.

So the fact of the matter is that we aren’t prepared. And the fact of the matter is that they weren’t prepared that first Christmas either. What was a pregnant woman doing riding a donkey on a dusty Judean road? Have you ever ridden a donkey or a mule? Even riding a horse is bumpy enough. I watch my grandkids riding their horses with their heads flopping and little bodies bouncing up and down and am amazed a pregnant woman would even get on a donkey. I guess it was better than walking – but not much.

Then there were the sleeping arrangements. There was no in those days. No Chamber of Commerce with a list of lodging for them. So they were certainly unprepared for a baby to be born. It was bad enough to have to sleep in a barn because there was no preparation for them in town – but to have your baby born in a stinky, bacteria ridden, barn? No. They were not prepared that first Christmas.

But there’s good news. The fact is that God was. Christmas didn’t catch God by surprise. He was planning on it before He ever created the world. Paul wrote:

“… I have been sent to bring faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know God’s truth--the kind of truth that changes lives--so that they can have eternal life, which God promised them before the world began…” Titus 1:1 (Living)

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