Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Part 3 of "Christmas UN:wrapped" Even in the midst of unfamiliar and confusing circumstances, God is at work

THE POINT: Even in the most confusing and unfamiliar ways…GOD is at work!


Part of what makes the Christmas season so meaningful for many of us is the familiarity.

We like things to be the same way every year… We are FAMILIAR with the story. We are FAMILIAR with the decorations. We are FAMILIAR with the way our family or our church or our town celebrates Christmas. We are FAMILIAR with the music.

For example… I’ll start the first line of the song and you finish it…

Rudolph…(have them finish the line)… the red nosed reign deer

Silent night… (have them finish the line)… holy night, all is calm all is bright

Joy… (have them finish the line)… to the world the Lord is come

Grandma got…(have them finish the line)… run over by a reindeer

Okay, so that last one doesn’t really count as a Christmas song – but most of you were still familiar with it so you helped me make my point.

We, usually, like and are comfortable with that with which we are familiar…


A part of what makes the Christmas season so meaningful for most of us is that familiarity.

We have practices and traditions that bring us comfort because they are so familiar, and when something unfamiliar is introduced into the picture, its tough to swallow.

I had a good friend in college who grew up in South Africa. – Geography lesson – Does anyone know if SOUTH Africa is north or SOUTH of the equator…?


Does anyone know what the weather is like SOUTH of the equator relative to weather here, NORTH of the equator… It’s the opposite!

So, Val, growing up in South Africa would talk about Christmas around the swimming pool and having a cook-out. And I had the hardest time wrapping my mind around that. I don’t like winter, but the idea of it being 85 or 90 degrees, with swimming and tanning and a picnic for Christmas was so unfamiliar to me that I just couldn’t grasp it. It didn’t make sense… so much so that I refused to think about the possibility…

It wasn’t familiar to me and since it wasn’t familiar it was uncomfortable and since it was uncomfortable I chose to avoid thinking about it…

…We like the familiar – don’t we?

And our love for the familiar isn’t limited to Christmas

…I can pretty much tell you who’s not at church on a Sunday by which seats are empty – you like the familiarity of “your spot.”

…most of you park in the same parking place (generally) each week.

…you drink the same brand of coffee on the way to work.

…you shop in the same stores because you are familiar with the layout (ever try shopping at a different store? Find it frustrating?)

We like it when things are familiar… we are comfortable when things are familiar…

In fact, we like the familiar so much… we are so desirous of the comfort we get from the familiar that we will invent FAMILIARITY where it doesn’t exist…


• We’re at a conference for work or a social gathering and we don’t know anyone, but we see that one guy who lived in the same dorm we did in college… WE HAVE SOMETHING FAMILIAR… and so for the next two hours he’s your new best friend…

• We pack pictures of the family or take a favorite pillow or item of clothing on out of town trips…

• We’re in another state and we see the ONE gas station that’s of the same brand we use at home, so we get our gas there because we’re familiar with it…

But maybe we shouldn’t be so afraid of the UNfamiliar. Maybe, instead of fearing and running from what is UNfamiliar, we should look for the hand of God in the midst of the UNfamiliar… Because even when life is confusing and everything around us seems to be UNfamiliar, God is still at work…

And that’s the point… Even in the most confusing and unfamiliar ways…GOD is at work!

That’s the ONE THING I want you to walk out of here with today… that even when everything seems unfamiliar, God is at work. Even in the most confusing and unfamiliar ways…GOD is at work!

Open you Bibles to Luke 2:1-7. If you don’t have a Bible with you this morning, raise your hands and our ushers will make sure you get one so you can follow along.

[Ushers hand out Bibles to those who need them]

This is a VERY FAMILIAR passage of scripture. At least, it’s familiar to us. In Luke 2:1-7 we find the biblical account of the birth of Jesus. It’s story that we’ve all heard hundreds of times. It’s a story that we can quote – almost verbatim. It’s so familiar to us that we just assume we know the story… But it WASN’T familiar to Mary or Joseph. It wasn’t familiar to those who lived through it. In fact, it was completely UNfamiliar – completely foreign – to them.

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