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Christmas Message 2020 - The Christmas Revolution - Part 2
- Matt: 1:18-25
- Luke: 1:35-38, 56
- Luke: 2:4-7,
- Luke: 1:46-55
Last week we started off with Joseph’s story. Let’s now take a look at Joseph’s story.
Christmas is about Mary’s story.
Luke 1:35-38, 56 - “And the Angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you: therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’
And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’
And the Angel departed from her.
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.”
Luke 2:4-7 - “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.”
Have you ever stopped to wonder how Mary’s life was impacted by the events of that first Christmas? Maybe Mary was a sweet, godly, innocent teenager from Nazareth; she was a role model for the other young girls in their synagogue youth group to follow. Maybe Mary was one of those girls who had gained the respect of all of the local towns-women. She was the kind of daughter, all the women wanted their daughters to grow up and become.
Now that she was engaged to the local carpenter’s son made things even better. She was marrying into a family who had a good business and a good reputation. Joseph came from a respected family; a god-fearing family; one of those families who everyone looked up to. It was fitting that Mary should have been the one they pursued to marry their son, Joseph. She was the best choice in town. Any young man in Nazareth would have been proud of her as a wife.
Maybe Mary’s hope chest had been filled with her wedding dress which her grandmother had passed down to her mother before her. On top of the folded wedding dress, was a necklace which had been passed down from mother to the first daughter, for as long as anyone in their family could remember. The pearls rested in their place, where they had been carefully placed before Mary could walk and talk; waiting the day when she would be married.
I’m sure Mary and her mother had carefully made plans for her wedding day to be perfect. The guest list included everyone in town... along with family and friends from as far away, as her Aunt Elisabeth and her priestly husband, Uncle Zechariah, who lived outside of Jerusalem... a short journey from the Temple.
Can you imagine the turmoil between Mary and her family when she told them “I am pregnant?” Nice girls did not get pregnant in Mary and Joseph’s day. Unwed girls were marked for life. They were sequestered from the social life of the community. The community did everything in their power to rid themselves of women like this. It was a fate worse than death. If you were an unwed mom, you were treated as if you had never existed... as if you had never been one of them... you were ignored...
When people passed you, they stared right through you as if you were invisible. When you talked, no one listened, and they made sure they did not respond or answer you. The eldest women were the worst. They were the matriarchs of the community and it was their job to make an example of those who had failed and let them down. While everyone else ignored you... the matriarchs would publicly humiliate you and let everyone else know in no uncertain terms, that you were a tramp.
That was what life was like for someone who had been unfaithful, and got caught. How do you even begin to tell people that God picked you because you were faithful? How do you explain that God’s plan for your life involved laying aside your carefully laid plans? How do you convince your doubters and skeptics who don’t believe you heard from God? Especially, when this is the first time in which God had ever chosen to bring His Plan into being through a teenage girl.
Judaism was a manly religion. God used men... not women to accomplish His work; especially not a teenage girl who was pregnant, claiming to be a virgin. ---Who in their right mind would believe such a thing?
How can you convince others that God is working in your life? Especially, when God’s plan is not neat:
- it doesn’t follow the protocol of acceptability;
- it steps outside the realm of man;
- it goes against cultural standards;
- and it interrupts the dreams and plans of families who have worked so hard and waited so long, to see their dreams for their children fulfilled.
It didn’t help that Mary had spent the first three months of her pregnancy at Elisabeth’s house, away from Joseph, and now, she shows back up in Nazareth, starting to show... and people started asking questions.
Mary knew that the townspeople would probably doubt what she told them; but I’m sure she was taken by surprise when Joseph talked of ending their relationship, publicly divorcing her, and making her the mockery of the community.
It took a dream from God to convince Joseph not to leave her, but there was still a distance between them. He was a good man; a godly man; but he was still a man... who was careful to do the right thing. And, in this situation, what was right with God was not right with man. Either way, Joseph decided, he lost something. Do I lose God’s favor? Or lose the favor of family and friends? Joseph chose to keep God’s favor, but it wasn’t an easy choice...
God’s plan doesn’t leave a lot of comfortable room for making comfortable choices.
Rome didn’t care that Mary was pregnant. The law was the law. Joseph would have to take Mary with him to Bethlehem for the census. And besides, Joseph’s father thought it would be a good thing if they stayed in Bethlehem for a while after the baby came... to give the townspeople time to adjust, forget, or maybe even willing to forgive the disappointment that Mary had been to them.
There in a stable, amidst the lowing of the oxen, the stench of the manure, and the braying of the donkeys, Mary cried. She was a pregnant teenager who needed her mother. Every girl needs their mother when they reach their final trimester of pregnancy. She needs the reassurance of knowing her mom is there. She needs someone she loves and trusts to stand beside her, holding her hand, telling her that this is normal… everything will be alright. I’m sure Mary cried a lot that Christmas night.
As Mary waited for the Hope of the World to be born, her back ached, she sweated as she shook in the chilled air; she hurt worse than she could ever have imagined; there were no handmaids to help her; she was alone, afraid, and terrified into silence, as hot tears coursed down her wind-chafed cheeks.
If God was at work saving the world, why did it hurt so much? If this is the child who was going to rescue the hurting, then why did it have to cost me so much? God, why does your will and your work have to hurt?
Surely, a God who is omnipotent could have come up with an easier way to enter this world. That first Christmas was messy.
Join us next week as we conclude with Our story and Christ’s story.
Blessings to you all as we celebrate the birth of our risen Savior.