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Summary: It went just like in the cantatas... except of a couple of small things. (Good physical illustration toward the end that can be used in almost any Christmas sermon)

OPEN: (I began the sermon by bringing out a gaily wrapped golf bag, complete with clubs & irons - I tried hard to make sure it was fairly obvious what was wrapped)Then I asked:

“Does anybody know what’s in the package?” The audience seemed to enjoy the humor of the obvious.

Then I gave this opening comment:

In his book "Dare to Believe", Dan Baumann explained that at Christmas time he would always do a lot of snooping, trying to find the gift - wrapped presents and figure out what was in them. One year he discovered a package with his name on it that was easy to identify. There was no way to disguise the golf clubs inside.

Baumann then made this observation: "When Mom wasn’t around, I would go and feel the package, shake it, and pretend that I was on the golf course. The point is, I was already enjoying the pleasures of a future event; namely, the unveiling. It had my name on it. I knew what it was." He took pleasure in the “Promise” that lay beneath the wrapping

APPLY: There is a sense of excitement about Christmas, particularly if you have kids. The lights, the decorations, the smells, the trips to outdoor light and drama displays. BUT MOST OF ALL, there’s the anticipation, the promise of the surprises in packages to be opened Christmas morning.

ILLUS: My nephew has lived us periodically as he’s grown up, and we’ve grown very close. One family Christmas, my wife & I bought him walkie talkies and wrapped them separately. In our family we have the custom of distributing all of the gifts and then taking turns opening them one at a time. My nephew was about 10 at the time, and you could see his eyes light up as he unwrapped the first walkie talkie. It didn’t seem to dawn on him that walkie talkies needed two units to work. He was just excited to have the one in his hands. Then he waited patiently as others in the family opened their gifts. It just so happened that the next gift he selected was the 2nd walkie talkie. When he’d unwrapped it, he looked excitedly over at me and shouted out: “Hey, look uncle, there’s one for you too!”

Now Christians may debate whether gift giving should even be part of Christmas, but you have to admit (particularly if you have kids around)…it is fun. That’s because kids recognize the excitement that surrounds the entire day.

I. That is the kind of excitement that you sense as you read Luke 2:8-20 (KJV)

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying & praising God for all the things that they had heard & seen, as it was told unto them.

ILLUS: Back when I was a boy every Christmas our church held a cantata. It was a big affair partly because it was a big church. In the choir loft there were 25 or 30 singers, singing songs that that told the story of that first Christmas morning. Then there was always Joseph & Mary making their way down the center aisle of the sanctuary and making their way to the Innkeeper who told them (either in song, or by words, or by motions) there was no room in the inn. Quietly they’d make their way up to the stage where a manger was prepared to receive the child.

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