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Summary: Mary and Joseph: How did they remain hopeful and faithful in the midst of trials and difficulties that resulted from God’s plans? Luke 1:26 - 2:7 and Matthew 1:18-25

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Taking Christmas Faith on the Road

Grace Church 12/9/2007 Steve Trampe

Welcome to the second in our 4 week Advent series called

Taking Christmas on the Road.

I have really enjoyed getting a fresh look at the events and characters involved in Christmas because it brings it alive and makes it applicable to me.

I grew up with a Christmas Nativity picture that

• had Mary looking more like she spent a day at the spa than a day in labor.

• The straw was spotless. The animals clean and well behaved.

• And Jesus looked like a wizened adult with a tiny body, more than a newborn infant in a feeding trough.

I like reading between the lines of the Scripture surrounding the birth of Christ – getting a feel for their lives – trying to understand their reality, like the drama we just saw, so that Christmas becomes more than just a sanitized story, or an excuse for family gatherings, eggnog and gift giving.

I hope this morning to help us view Christmas as a real event that not only changed history, but might change our lives as well.

This morning – take a look at Mary and Joseph

• People who had solid faith, but not perfect faith.

• People who couldn’t see the total reality of their future, but could hope in the future

• People growing in faith as they took their faith on their walk through life.

• People who were learning that “we walk by faith, not by sight”

• People like us, on a faith journey

I remember a time when my faith was first strengthened then stretched

• Sue and I married about 1 year

• Missions or Christian camping

• Opportunity to do both in New Zealand – we took off into the unknown – literally having spent only 10 minutes with the director

• Not what expected – both better and more difficult.

• A tough, trying time of confusion and discouragement

• QT – Jeremiah 29:11- God’s promise about my future gave hope

• Yet as I considered this in the days ahead - I knew that today’s living is preparation for tomorrows life

• Fear, concern, anxiety,

• Today is tough – What is tomorrow going to bring – What difficulties is God preparing me for?

Mary and Joseph

• People who had plans and dreams, yet God changed their plans

• People who believed the promises of God concerning their future, yet faced many difficulties because of God’s plans

How did they remain hopeful and faithful in the midst of trials and difficulties that resulted from God’s plans?

How might we be helped by their story so that in the midst of our own difficulties and trials we can

WALK IN FAITH – NOT SIT IN DESPAIR

Before we look at their story, I want us to better understand their situation as far as their relationship – because the Jewish traditions that culminated in marriage were much different than ours

• Engagement: arranged by parents or matchmaker – usually during childhood. Arranged because for the Jew, marriage was far too serious of a commitment to leave to the fickleness of the heart

• Betrothal: Legally binding commitment – considered husband/wife, but living with parents. About 1 year. Groom preparing living quarters (like Jesus is doing for us, His bride) Any time together would be in the context of normal living.

• Wedding day: groomsmen bring wife to husbands quarters to celebrate and finally consummate the marriage.

When we come to Mary and Joseph in the Christmas story, they are in the Betrothal time period

• Looking forward to the wedding celebration and consummation

• Looking forward to a long life with lots of kids

• Looking forward to growing old together in peace

And in the midst of these dreams – An angel shows up and changes the plan!!

Luke 1:26-38 NASB

What can we learn from this part of the Christmas story?

Right from the start – Mary shows her faith – simple belief in what God is promising to her.

We don’t know how much she understood – but she certainly believed the promise that she – a virgin – would have a Child.

NO QUESTIONS

except about the logistics of how a virgin could have a child,

not questions of whether a virgin could have a child!

First lesson – Will we believe the promises of God, even if we cannot imagine how He will pull them off?

This is faith – “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”.

God promises us many things in His Word – some of which may seem difficult to understand how they could come to pass.

Faith doesn’t keep us from wondering how God is going to fulfill His promise to us

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