Summary: Mary pondered - using four gifts to explore meaning of Christmas as we ponder it's meaning in our lives

Mary pondered all these words in her heart.

That’s what I want to focus on tonight


That’s what Christmas is about

reflecting, thinking, contemplating

the wonder of Christmas’ past and present and future

Birth of Baby Jesus, Christmas programs,

Christmas worship, family gatherings

To help us ponder tonight

I asked four youth to help us

Thanks to our youth

for volunteering to help with the message tonight.

Go ahead and open your gift

and these are yours to keep

– Box of Hot Chocolate Mix

Do you like Hot Chocolate?

What is it good for?

Warming up on a cold winter’s night

I don’t like hot chocolate, coffee, or tea

But when I’m outside watching a Christmas parade

in the super cold air

I’ll even drink hot chocolate to warm me up.

Well the Christmas story

Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, wise men

warms us up

Who did I leave out of that list?

Baby Jesus – of course

babies always warm us up

they are fun to watch

(when they are not crying or have a messy diaper)

The Christmas story warms us.

We love to sing the Christmas carols.

We’d sing them from Thanksgiving

to Epiphany and longer if we could.

The melodies get inside our heads

settle down into our bones,

build themselves a home in our memories.

When you gather with family and sing Christmas carols

you don’t need the words to at least verse one

because you know them

Have you ever gone to a nursing home

to sing Christmas carols?

They don’t need the words

They remember the words.


Because the songs are a part of us.

And they warm our hearts and lives

mellow us just a little

bring us a little closer to Jesus

and closer to family and friends.

and bring Peace on earth good will to all.

Open the second Gift - box of Poptart S’mores

reminds me of roasting marshmallows by a campfire

My family and I love to camp.

And although I do not like s’mores

Wendy and the family love s’mores

There a part of our camping or cookout tradition.

Marshmallows roasted over an open fire,

chocolate and graham crackers.

bring back Camping memories

relaxing times by the fire

These quiet times, relaxing times

become etched in my mind

memories that will stay with me all my life.

Think about the shepherds

sitting around a campfire

watching over their flocks by night

What happened?

Angels shining bright

came and told them the story

For to you is born this day a savior

and they hurried to see this thing that had come to pass

Tonight we celebrate a story

that has become so important to us.

that we can tell the story

without looking it up in the Bible

Caesar Augustus, taxing,

Joseph, Mary with child, going to Bethlehem

can’t find a place to stay

end up in a stable with sheep and donkeys

there Mary delivers Jesus

and lays him in the feeding trough.

Open Gift 3 – Beef Jerky

Do you like beef jerky?

And what does that have to do with Christmas?

it’s meat – right

good solid food - protein

And the Christmas story has real meat

God so loved the world

that he gave his only begotten son

so that whoever believes in him

will not perish

but have everlasting life.

Christmas is the beginning of that fulfillment.

God with us – Emmanuel

Sometimes when we sing

or tell the story of Christmas

we hear something new,

hear something we never heard that way before

We gain new insights

new understandings

Yes, I have been telling the Christmas Story

for over 30 years, more if you count Seminary

and the years growing up as a pastor’s kid

And yet as I read the birth accounts

in Matthew and Luke

and read over the options for Christmas programs

and sermon resources

there is still something new to hear.

The story still adds meat to my faith!

Once a little girl asked her pastor:

“If Jesus was born in Bethlehem,

how did he get over here?”

obviously referring to the America.

The pastor’s response was a simple one

“Jesus made the trip from Bethlehem to American

and all around the world

in the hearts of individuals like you and me.”

Jesus comes to dwell

(Jesus our Emmanuel-or a carol line)

and Jesus leads us to think

Would I leave flocks to find Jesus?

Would I leave behind my valued possessions behind

to find the wonderful Jesus?

Leave TV, iPad, iPhone,

Nintendo, Xbox, or Playstation, whatever,

or skip the Championship football Game

to “See this thing that has come to pass”?

Take the time to ponder the Christmas story

Let it have some meaning to you

and hopefully as you listen, sing, read, ponder

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