Summary: Part 3 of series based on Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol"
 Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.
 As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."  All of this happened to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
 "Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and he will be called Immanuel
(meaning, God is with us)."
 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife,  but she remained a virgin until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Welcome to Bethany. I want to especially welcome our guests and hope this service will be a good experience for you today. We’ve been in this series on Humbug to Hallelujah during the Advent as we look forward to the coming of Christ.
If you’re still in a Humbug mood—say it lous with me and get it out of your system. Boy I was in a Humbug mood this week with the ice storm. I had no electricity for ___ hours. So say it with me HUMBUG!!!!
How many of you still honor the long time tradition of sending cards. Here’s what happened to one couple.
Rick and Judy Armstrong had a hectic holiday schedule encompassing careers, teenagers, shopping, and all the required doings of the season. Realizing that she would be short of time, she had the stationer print their signature on their Christmas cards, instead of signing each one.
Soon they started getting cards from friends signed "The Modest Morrisons," "The Clever Clarks," and "The Successful Smiths." Then she discovered the stationer’s subtle mistake. She had mailed out a hundred cards neatly imprinted with "Happy Holidays from the Rich Armstrongs."
I’m sure they laughed their way through that mistake.
But sometimes, during this time of the year, when things do go wrong, it is easy to throw up our hands and say, “What is the use?”
It just seems to be too much.
Have you ever wanted to skip Christmas?
Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol would have just as soon skipped Christmas as you may know if you have been here each week as we have followed his experience that one dreadful Christmas Eve.
For different reasons than maybe what Scrooge encountered, there is no doubt that Christmas can be a time of stress rather than peace.
There is a touch of irony in that, isn’t there?
Isn’t it amazing that we show the least amount of tolerance during a time that is to be distinguished by peace?
Do you know what the best part of Christmas is?
It is being together with members of your family. That’s the way it was for Bob Cratchit and his family, including his son Tiny Tim.
Do you know that the worst part of Christmas is?
It is being together with members of your family.
It would be funny if it weren’t true.
In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy says to Snoopy: "There are times when you really bug me, but I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a hug." Snoopy replies: "That’s the way I am--huggable and buggable." And such is the plight of spending time with relatives and acquaintances at Christmas. Because they are imperfect people (as are you and me), things aren’t going to be completely ideal. But without them in our lives, something is dreadfully wrong.
Well, we know that Christmastime is about valuing relationships. But sometimes there is a lot of stress when it comes with being with others, especially family.
Those imperfections become difficult to digest.
In fact, because of past mistakes in our relationships, the relationships may be more known for anger, heartache and confusion rather than peace and good will.
So it was for Scrooge. As we continue in our journey from humbug to hallelujah, we come now to Scrooge’s encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Present. In this second “holy haunting” the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is shown the consequences of giving too little. The ghost takes him to Bob Cratchit’s house on Christmas Day.