Summary: We have our dreams for a perfect Christmas, but don't feel God has failed you if your dreams aren't met. Imagine how Mary's dreams for having a perfect birth for her baby were disrupted.

If we made a list of what it would take to make a perfect Christmas, it would be quite a list. Of course all the family needs to be together, all at the same time. Just that can be really complicated. For us, as near as we can tell, we’ll have one son coming in on the afternoon of the 25th and leaving the afternoon of the 26th. Another son will be coming in on the afternoon of the 26th and staying a day or two more. I hope they can overlap because we all love to see the grandkids together. Our daughter will be with the other side of the family in Nebraska and we haven’t heard when our youngest son will arrive, but he always shows up sooner or later.

The perfect Christmas requires a ton of food, not just a huge Christmas dinner, but plenty of special snacks, and maybe several days’ worth of food for out of town guests.

The house should be beautifully decorated: outside, the living room, the dining room, the entry hallway, maybe even the bathroom.

You should be able to find presents for all your loved ones, presents that are just right for them, that they’ll really use and love, and preferably, if you shop enough you can find everything on sale for less than $10 each.

You should be able to get together with each group of friends, the Christmas party from work, from your Sunday school class, your neighbors, the other side of the family.

There should be long, relaxed evenings to just sit and enjoy the peace and wonder of it all, with no hurry at all.

There should be fresh snow, but not enough to require much work.

And then at church we should sing your favorite hymns, just the verses you like, with nobody singing off key within 5 rows of you. The pastor should preach a sermon that will really help you understand what happened on the first Christmas, how it fits into the broad picture of God’s plan of salvation, how it relates to your life here and now and end with a story that just melts your heart, and wrap it up in about 4 ½ minutes.

How are we doing? Is anyone here having that kind of Christmas?

This morning we are going to look at the next step in the amazing journey that Mary and Joseph took to bring our Lord Jesus into the world.

Now picture Mary in her last month of her first pregnancy, probably 14 or 15 years old, pondering the wonderful things the angel had said about her baby. She didn’t know anything about Christmas, but what would be in the heart of a 1st century, early teenage girl as she anticipated giving birth? What would be on her Christmas list?

She would want a place to give birth that would be familiar, cozy and safe, to have her family nearby, to be helped by the village midwife she had known all her life, to have everything go according to plan. I’ll bet she had been nesting for some time, preparing the birthing room with all the special things she could think of. Joseph had already made a cradle and maybe a changing table. Baby clothes and bedding were ready. Her hopes were high.

And how did it all turn out? Our text for this morning is Luke 2:1-7.

1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Now I like to be the answer man who is an expert on everything, but I know my limits. There are people here who know a lot more about being 9 months pregnant than I do. What’s it like?

It’s hard to sleep. Your back aches. You feel clumsy.

Do you feel like taking a long road trip? Would riding a donkey make it better? How about bouncing in a primitive wagon?

I remember when we were expecting our second and living in Nepal, Kathy was talking about how uncomfortable it was getting and someone suggested that if she wanted to get it over we should rent a taxi to drive us on a very bumpy road through the mountains to the Tibetan border. They were only joking, and that would only have been about 45 minutes away from a hospital.

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