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..

I. Mary

(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…

II. Joseph

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.

Leo here is going to be married soon. Now Leo you’ve been in the desert for a couple of months, and Priya--she’s been in the states at school for since August. Now how would you have taken the news that she was 2 months pregnant? And do you think it would’ve been hard to believe if she said, "No really it’s God’s baby." Even with an angelic visitation, it would be hard to swallow. But Joseph became a part of the Christmas story because he believed the impossible and then acted on it.

The Bible says that when he awoke from his dream, Joseph did exactly what the Angel had said and took Mary to be his wife.

You know the Christmas story is still a little hard to believe, maybe harder than the one about Santa. We’re still each one called to have faith that the virgin-born Son of God was not only born in a stable, but died on a cross to pay the price for our sins and then rose again to show his victory over both sin and death.

The only evidence we have is the eyewitness testimonies and the internal witness of the Holy spirit that burns within us to convince us of the truth of this impossible story. Next let’s think about. The …

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Colin Coombs

commented on Dec 14, 2006

Thanks Gary for your lovely message, I have used something similar in the past, but not quite like this, I hope to use this as the basis for my sermon on the 24th am. Thanks again, and God bless you, Colin

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