Summary: I used this abbreviated sermon on the Sunday of our special Christmas themed service.
A. The story is told of a man who got tired of all the Christmas hoopla and commercialism.
1. So, he decided not to send Christmas cards, feeling that the expense and effort were non-productive.
a. For the first ten days of December he felt good about his decision.
b. But then, as the mail carrier brought him greetings from friends near and far, he began to feel more and more guilt about sending no cards.
c. Finally, four days before Christmas, he couldn’t stand it any longer.
2. He rushed down to the drug store and grabbed the only box of cards still on the shelf.
a. He bought it, purchased stamps, rushed home, and addressed cards frantically all evening.
b. That very evening he drove down to the post office and mailed 49 cards, and the one card that was left over, he placed on the mantle for decoration.
3. The next day he was strolling through the house and happened to see that extra card on the mantle.
a. Suddenly it occurred to him that he had addressed and signed all those cards, but had not actually read what the card said.
b. So, he grabbed the card and took a look. This is what it said: “This cheery card has come to say: A gift from us is on the way.”
4. The real meaning of Christmas is what some call the “Advent” or coming of Jesus, God’s gift.
a. God sent the message that His gift, Jesus, was on the way many centuries before He arrived.
B. Many traditions and stories about Christmas have grown up over the years.
1. Many of us like watching the Christmas movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” or “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”
2. Every year, TBS runs the movie “A Christmas Story” for 24 hours straight – that’s the movie with the boy who wants the bb gun but whose parents warn him that he will shoot his eye out.
3. For a few minutes today, I don’t want us to talk about “A Christmas Story,” rather I want us to talk about “The Christmas Story”
C. The Christmas story is a familiar one to most of us – we have heard it over and over again since we were young.
1. But is the Christmas story true? Is it fact or is it fiction?
2. Was Jesus really born of a virgin in Bethlehem?
3. Lord willing, on January 6th, we will discuss the question: “Was Jesus God?” so we don’t want to get into that question too much today.
4. Certainly, the virgin birth is an important consideration in answering the question of Jesus’ identity.
D. Here is a synopsis of the story of the birth of Christ as found in the Bible:
1. Mary, a virgin, was living in Nazareth of Galilee and was engaged to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter.
2. An angel visited her and explained to her that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would carry and give birth to this child and she would name him Jesus.
3. At first Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel's words.
a. Being a virgin, Mary questioned the angel, "How will this be?"
b. The angel explained that the child would be God's own Son and, therefore, "nothing is impossible with God."
c. Humbled and in awe, Mary believed the angel of the Lord and rejoiced in God her Savior.
4. While Mary was still engaged to Joseph, she miraculously became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, as foretold to her by the angel.
5. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced.
a. He knew the child was not his own, and Mary's apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma.
b. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary, under Jewish law she could be put to death by stoning.
6. Although Joseph's initial reaction was to break the engagement, which was an appropriate thing for a righteous man to do, he treated Mary with extreme kindness.
a. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to divorce her quietly.
7. But God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to verify Mary's story and reassure him that his marriage to her was God's will.
a. The angel explained that the child within Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that his name would be Jesus and that he was the Messiah, God with us.
8. When Joseph woke from his dream, he willingly obeyed God and took Mary home to be his wife, in spite of the public humiliation he would face.
a. Perhaps this noble quality is one of the reasons God chose him to be the Messiah's earthly father.