CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS WHEN THE GRINCH SHOWS UP
A. CHRISTMAS IS ALWAYS A WONDERFUL TIME?
1. This whole month of December we’re looking at Christmas through the eyes of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch. So keep an eye out for his green skin!
2. Have you ever had some major plans disrupted and things go nothing like you were anticipating due to no fault of your own?
3. Weddings are notorious for not going according to plan. Take this wedding mishap for instance. Chloe & Keith’s Wedding Disaster VIDEO – available on Youtube (40 sec)
4. Joe Bunting, a writer, asked people to write about Christmas. He expected to hear the Andy Williams version, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
5. But what he mainly got were stories about growing old, comparisons with happier Christmases, stories about cancer, etc. IN OTHER WORDS, THEIR JOY IN CHRISTMAS HAD BEEN STOLEN BY TROUBLES.
6. 7 MAJOR PROBLEMS PEOPLE HAVE AT CHRISTMAS
a. Finances. Not enough money.
b. Stress…shopping, planning, dinners, decorations, etc.
c. Loneliness. A whopping 43 percent of Americans are single, and 27 percent live alone. Tough.
d. Grief. Missing a deceased loved one.
e. Estrangement. When you’re not speaking to a relative, family get-togethers can usher in feelings of sadness, guilt, resentment, or inner conflict about whether to communicate.
f. Divorce. The holidays may remind you of happier times.
g. Pleasing others. We try to meet everyone’s expectations & prob. fail. [Darlene Lancer]
7. But troubles have been associated with Christmas since the very first one. Let’s read about it.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband…did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:18-21,24.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem…5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” Luke 2:4-7.
C. A PERFECT BEGINNING
1. Mary's part in the Christmas story had begun with visits from Angels, the miraculous conception, people being filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophecies over the baby of a world-altering future.
2. But this was followed by a time when circumstances seem to contradict God's great purposes for this Child.
3. So how did Mary and Joseph cope with their troubles? To say it another way, how do you “Celebrate(ing) Christmas When the Grinch Shows Up?”
I. JOSEPH & MARY’S NIGHTMARE
A. JOSEPH’S BETRAYAL
1. Poor Joseph! He & Mary’s marriage got off to a bad start -- Mary turned up pregnant during the engagement and Joseph knew that the child was not his.
2. HOW DO YOU THINK JOSEPH FELT?
a. ANGER? Yes. Anger at her unfaithfulness.
b. EMBARASSMENT? Yes. Half of his friends thought him a fool for picking her and letting her get away with it. The other half thought that he was the guilty party. So Joseph’s reputation took a hit.
c. SORROW? No doubt. His life had been planned around her and he was sorry for her too; she had ruined her life.
d. NOW WHAT TO DO? The Jewish law allowed stoning (Deut. 22:23-24), but NO, He loved her too much for that; He would divorce her quietly.
3. Here we have a person in the center of God's will and disaster strikes. “Why did God allow this?”
4. But the story isn’t over. God sent an angel to Joseph to explain that Mary was carrying the Savior of the World. God brought peace to Joseph’s storm and He will to yours too!
B. FROM MARY’S ANGLE: REPUTATION RUINED
1. Mary was one of the most righteous women of all time. And yet she became ostracized and stigmatized for a pregnancy that was not caused by sin.
2. At six months, her pregnancy began showing. The rumor mill and gossip chains began cranking.
3. Two kinds of human beings talk too much: the male and the female kinds. Someone has said, "We’re born with our eyes closed and our mouths open, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to reverse that mistake of nature."
4. Paul called rumor-mongers "dogs." Why? Dogs get into your trash and spread it all over the neighborhood.
5. Have you ever been accused of doing something you didn't do? Then you know a little of what Mary felt like. She was innocent, but everyone believed she was guilty. She was labeled an ‘adulteress.’ But God vindicated her and He will you too.
C. 3RD ACT: JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM
1. Imagine Mary (think of your wife or your daughter). She was nine months pregnant, about to give birth, swollen and aching all over.
2. She had to travel 70 miles; more than 3 hard days on the road. Up and down mountains and ravines; cold and hot; with bandits and wild animals all around – riding on a donkey (not in a comfortable car)!
3. Doctors routinely tell women not to make trips when they’re far along in their pregnancy.
4. Then Mary's birth pains began. Joseph knocked on every door in town, but everywhere he went, there was a "no vacancy" sign up.
5. Joseph must have thought, "Could I have been mistaken? Did the angel really say, "Son of God?" Where is God now?”
6. There was no antiseptic room, no comfortable bed; no incubator, no competent physicians -- only a barn with some hay. What a disappointment; what a desperate situation!
D. REMEMBER THIS:
1. It was kind of like Christmas in Whoville. Grinch stole all their presents, decorations, and food! How could they possibly still have Christmas?
2. But no matter what the circumstances,
no matter what people thought,
no matter how Joseph & Mary felt,
no matter how rough the journey,
or how lowly the birthplace...
II. CHRISTMAS STILL CAME!
Despite all the troubles that came to Mary & Joseph, Christmas still came! The Child was still born. Hope came! So what does this mean to us?
A. GOD & HIS WORD WILL BE PROVEN TRUE
1. Heb. 11:1 says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN."
2. Mary and Joseph didn't see the hand of God, but it was there. You may not see the hand of God on your life, but it's there! Hang on to God's word; it will be proven true!
B. WE WILL HAVE VICTORY
1. Even though everything didn't go right, God still accomplished His purposes.
2. The same is true of our lives: we will ultimately have victory!
C. JESUS WILL COME: ALL WILL CHANGE
1. The first Christmas was Christ's first coming. It changed Mary and Joseph's lives.
2. Jesus is coming again. We can't stop it. Just as surely as he came before, he's coming again. Jesus wants us ready.
III. HOW GOD HEALS THE PAIN OF CHRISTMAS
A. JESUS IS IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US
1. Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah’s 7:14 prophecy, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" —which means, "GOD WITH US."
2. Jesus became fully human – sharing in our poverty, our troubles, and our struggles. Because of this, He can be sympathetic with our weaknesses and problems.
3. WE’RE NOT ALONE! He said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” Heb. 13:5 and “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” Mt. 28:20.
4. Take consolation in the fact that God is with you!
B. GOD IS A GOD OF COMFORT
1. Isaiah said that Jesus was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief….Surely he hath borne our griefs, & carried our sorrows Isa. 53:3-4.
2. Paul called God the ‘God of all comfort’ “Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” 2 Cor. 1:3-4.
3. If you’re hurting this Christmas season, know that it’s the nature of God to comfort you. Go to Him and pour out your hearts to Him. He will heal you of all your hurts as you cling to Him.
C. A FUTURE HOPE
1. Rev. 21:4 tells of a future time when “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
2. In that time, we won’t have any more stress, or worries, or troubles, or sadness. We won’t have to go to work, or the doctor, or pay the bills, or worry about the future or pay taxes!
3. We’ll be with our loved ones again, never to be separated. Heaven will be so awesome that God says we can’t comprehend how good it’s going to be!
D. PRACTICAL STEPS YOU CAN TAKE NOW
1. If you’re lonely, get involved by joining one of our Church’s groups or volunteering in ministry.
2. Find others in similar position and make plans together for the holidays.
3. If you’re feeling desperate, please tell someone. The holidays can be so hard and you never have to feel alone in your struggle. I’m always available for counseling or to talk!
1. The Movie “Man of Steel” released in 2013 is a fresh imagining of the Superman story. It drew great crowds.
2. Some said the reason for the popularity was its special effects; others said it was due to the longstanding superman mythology.
3. But Amy Adams, the actress who played Lois Lane in the movie, had a different opinion of why Superman is so appealing;
4. She said, “Who doesn’t want to believe that there’s one person who could save us from ourselves?”
5. Folks, that’s what Christmas is all about! The One who can save us from ourselves has come and died on the cross for our sins. All we need to do is trust in Him for salvation. Will you do that?
B. THE CALL
1. Salvation. “How many need a Savior this morning?” The angel said, “His name shall be called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Let’s pray.
2. How many of you are experiencing the Christmas blues on some level? God wants to help you. Stand and let’s let the healing begin!
3. Prayer for healing of hearts and minds.
[The wedding disaster piece in the Intro was adapted from Scott Kircher’s message]