Summary: Examines the attitudes and actions of each of the figures in the nativity set. If we follow in their footsteps we can be a part of the Christmas story too.
1. Each of us have Christmas traditions. One of the most important ones for our family is putting out the nativity set. This is our family set here. Last year I brought this set and talked about the people who missed their opportunity to be a part of the story--the innkeeper, the people of Bethlehem, King Herod and the people of Israel, I suggested that the same things that kept them from being a part of the Christmas Joy could keep us apart too.
2. This year I thought I’d like to do exactly the opposite. Instead of talking about the people who missed Christmas, I’d like to take a few minutes with you to think about the people who made Christmas. I’d like us to look at each of the pieces of the nativity set and consider what attitudes and actions are immortalized by their presence in the story.
Proposition: Following the same logic as last year, I’d like us to consider whether following in the footsteps of these people can bring the peace and joy of the season to us.
The first person I’d like to consider is..
(pick up each figurine as you talk about that character)
From all that we can tell from the Biblical account that we read a few moments ago, Mary was an ordinary young lady. She was planning to be married. Just like girls today I’m sure there was much excitement and planning going into not only the ceremony but her dreams of what married life would be . But…
Mary was willing to sacrifice her reputation and her plans.
The Scripture tells us that Mary was visited by an angel one night who said she had been chosen for a special purpose… Mary responded, "How can this be since I am a virgin?" The angel said that she would be overshadowed by the power of the most high… she was to bear a child not her own but the Son of God.
I want you to consider with me for just a moment the implications of what she was being asked to do. She had to consider not only her own plans which would be considerably upset by this task. She had to consider whether Joseph would even want her when it was learned she was pregnant. Further, she had to consider what all of her family and neighbors would think of her.
Nevertheless, Mary responded, "I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said."
What about us? Are you and I willing to sacrifice the plans we have so carefully made to make ourselves available for whatever the Lord might call us to? Are we willing to put aside pursuit of comfort and worldly pleasure? Will we say with Mary, "I am the Lord’s servant?"
Next I’d like to consider this man…
Remember Joseph had plans too. I imagine he was eagerly awaiting the day he would be joined with his beloved. Then, we don’t know how or from whom, he gets the news that Mary is pregnant. How devastating that must have been. I imagine that Mary tried to tell him about the visit of the angel but it must have been very difficult. You see, to become a part of the Christmas story…
Joseph was willing to believe the impossible.
An angel visits Joseph in the night and tells him that it’s all true. Even then it was a fantastic story. Nothing in life could prepare you to believe that your fiancé would become pregnant with the son of God.