Summary: Advent is the good news that there is hope regardless of your situation

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Most of you are probably familiar with the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The movie begins with George Bailey about to commit suicide in Bedford Falls, New York on Christmas Eve in 1945. As the prayers of his friends are heard in heaven an angel apprentice named Clarence Odbody is dispatched to help George regain his hope. While the movie is certainly far from accurate theologically, especially in its portrayal of angels, the theme of finding hope at Christmas is a timeless theme that actually does have its roots in the Scriptures, as we will discover this morning.

Over the next four weeks, and again on Christmas Eve, we’re going to take a fresh look at Christmas through the eyes of some of the people who were an integral part of the coming of our Savior. These are certainly not the people that we would expect God to involve in bringing His Son into the world. That first Christmas God did not choose to work through religious or political leaders or people of power and prestige. Instead, he partnered with an elderly couple who were childless, a group of pagan stargazers, a bunch of smelly, uneducated shepherds, a teenage girl and the carpenter she was planning to marry, and a humble innkeeper. I’m convinced that God did it that way because He wants all of us to understand that the power of Christmas is available for every single person, no matter our position in this world.

Before I proceed this morning, let me just make a couple of comments about the messages leading up to Christmas. You will notice that your bulletin insert isn’t the normal “fill-in-the-blank” outline. That’s because the passages that we’ll be looking at are stories and narratives that don’t necessarily lend themselves to a logical outline. If you want to make a few notes, I’ve left some space for you to do that, but my goal is that we’ll use these familiar Bible passages to take us on a journey in which we experience the wonder of the incarnation in a fresh way rather than just make this an academic study.

For the children who are here with us, this is going to be particularly challenging for you, but I know you are up to the task. On your handout, there are a few questions that I hope you can answer as you listen to the message today. But in order to do that, you’ll need to listen very carefully. I know that your parents and grandparents will help you listen for those answers.

With that in mind, you can either turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 1 or you can follow along using your bulletin insert which contains the passage we’ll be looking at this morning.

The very first Christmas occurred during a very dark time in the life of Israel and in the life of an elderly couple named Zechariah and Elizabeth. For Israel, it was a dark time because it had been roughly 400 years since God had spoken to His people through the prophet Malachi. That certainly doesn’t mean that God hadn’t still been at work in the lives of His people, preparing them for the coming of the Messiah. But the people still probably felt like God had abandoned them. But now, God was about to intervene in their lives in a way that would give them permanent, lasting hope.

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