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Summary: How does the Christmas story remind us about the value of relationships? When relationships get difficult, Jesus brings us together. When we feel isolated, Jesus brings us together. When Jesus brings us together, that is something to be treasured.

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December 18 Togetherness Luke 2:1-20

How does the Christmas story remind us about the value of relationships?

1. When relationships get difficult, Jesus brings us together 2:1-5 (on screen)

Matthew 1:18-21

2. When we feel isolated, Jesus brings us together 2:6-15 (on screen)

Biblical community is God’s answer to isolation and loneliness.

3. When Jesus brings us together, that is something to be treasured. 2:16-20

A British medical doctor named Ishani Kar-Purkayastha shared a story about his interaction with Doris, an 82-year-old hospital patient. Two days before Christmas, Doris seemed healthy and ready for discharge. But for some reason she kept complaining about inexplicable health issues. Dr. Kar-Purkayastha wrote: "Yesterday it was her arm that was hurting, before that her hip. Truth is, Doris is an incredibly healthy 82-year-old, and we can't find anything. I have no doubt that it will be the same today."

When the X-rays came back normal, he told Doris that he would have to stick to the plan of sending her home. Doris looked down at the floor and quietly said, "I don't want to go home …. It's just that I'm all alone and there are so many hours in the day." Then after a long pause, she sighed and asked, "Doctor, can you give me a cure for loneliness?"

Dr. Kar-Purkayastha reflected on this incident:

I wish I could say yes. I wish I could prescribe her some antidepressants and be satisfied that I had done my best, but the truth is she's not clinically depressed. It's just that she has been left behind by a world that no longer revolves around her, not even the littlest bit.

There are thousands like her, men and women … for whom time stands empty as they wait in homes full of silence …. They are no longer coveted by a society addicted to youth ….

[Doris] is alone, and it brings home the truth of this epidemic that we have on our hands—an epidemic of loneliness …. The most difficult part is that I don't know how to solve this, although I wish I could. For now, I simply retract my diagnoses. Sheepishly, I insist that Doris spends her Christmas this year on the ward, and I can see her mood lift. But as I steel myself for the inevitable influx of unwanted grandparents whom I know will arrive, I cannot help but wonder how it is that things could have gone so badly wrong.

Turn in your Bibles to Luke 2:1-20. Continue our series on Traditions we must maintain at Christmas if Christmas is going to be to us what God intends it to be. And by the way, He doesn’t give a rip about your decorations and other preparations…

Christmas is a time that should bring us together. But sometimes, that becomes a challenge. How does the Christmas story remind us about the value of relationships?

1. When relationships get difficult, Jesus brings us together 2:1-5 (on screen)

If you know the story of Joseph and Mary, you know that they had almost gotten divorced, right? Keep your finger there in Luke and turn to Matthew 1:18-21 (on screen)

In Jewish life at that time, when a man and a woman were engaged or betrothed, they would enter into a period of one year when they would not be stalking others on Facebook or trolling on the dating sites—they would be totally committed to each other. During that year, the man would go and prepare the place for them to live together. Then on the wedding day, he would sneak up with his groomsmen, surprise her, and take her to the wedding ceremony. If at any time, the groom found out or even suspected that she was unfaithful, he could have her stoned.

So when Joseph finds out that she’s pregnant, he has a dilemma: do I have Mary stoned or do I just go ahead and divorce her quietly. So the angel of the Lord shows up and says, “Listen, I know this will be difficult; people will accuse you of immorality; your name will be tarnished; it would be a lot easier for you to bail on this relationship, but don’t. I know this is difficult, but God wants you to stay together.”

Relationships are difficult. Need stats and anecdotes on millenials’ difficulty of keeping substantive relationships; easier to play video games and live at home….

Marriage is tough. Sometimes we’re tempted to just walk out because they are so cottin-picking hard. Funny story. But God’s plan is to work out the wrinkles in relationships and learn how to love even when it’s not easy or convenient.

But let me tell you what God’s plan is: stay together. Jesus in the center of any marriage can bring you together. (need chart/draw triangle) Reengage testimony: one last try then divorce—now they are committed to make it work with Jesus at the center. XO conference (LOGO)…

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