Even though I have heard the Christmas story many many times, as I’m sure you have – I do wonder what it would be like to have heard it for the very first time – or in fact have lived in the very first Christmas.
If you’ve ever arrived at a motel and find that they’ve double booked your room and there’s nowhere else available – or if you’ve presumed there would be a room available and didn’t book – you could understand how Mary and Joseph would have felt – especially with a pregnant Mary.
Our reading of the Christmas Story makes Jesus being born in a manger sound very romantic.
But if you’ve ever visited a wool shed, like I did when I first started dating Sharon – it’s far from romantic.
Or imagine being Mary and discovering you’re pregnant – and telling people – it’s okay, the child is actually God’s.
Or Joseph finding out that his fiancé is pregnant and it’s not his child.
And trying to tell his friends and family – it’s okay – God is the Father.
We make the story sound so romanticised – so loving and adoring – but that very first Christmas would have been anything but that.
For starters Mary, under the Old Testament law of Moses could have been put to death – not only for being unfaithful to Joseph but for blasphemy saying that she was bearing God’s child.
Sometimes we can miss the powerful message of the Christmas Story as it becomes just a feel good story.
Yes it is an amazing story that is lovely to hear over and over again during Christmas but God is wanting to remind you that at times life can be difficult.
Life can be uncertain.
Life was difficult and uncertain for Mary and Joseph but God reassured them that the child about to be born would be called “Immanuel” – which means God is with us.
And that’s the heart of the Christmas message.
In our lives with all its uncertainties, difficulties and complexities, God is with us.
And on each occasion when angels visited Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds – they began with the words – ‘do not be afraid’.
And that’s the heart of the Christmas message to you today – do not be afraid – for God is bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
And we need to hear that message more than ever today as the message of the world is the opposite;
Be afraid, is what we keep getting told.
Be afraid of climate change.
Be afraid of bushfires.
Be afraid of volcanoes.
Be afraid of droughts.
Be afraid of soaring temperatures.
Be afraid of hackers.
Be afraid – be afraid – be afraid.
But God, today, is telling you – do not be afraid – for God is bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
And he will be called Immanuel – God with us.
And if God is on our side, who can be against us?
Today, God’s love becomes personal as God loved the world so much that he sent his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And nothing, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So may God bless you this Christmas as the Christmas Story becomes your story and remove all your fears because God is with us.