|Sermon Preparation -
About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David's hometown, and Joseph when there because he was from David's family.
Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, and while they were there, she gave girt to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.
That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. But the angel said, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay."
Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said:
Praise God in heaven!
Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.
After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about." They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay.
When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. Everyone listened and was surprised. But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant. [CEV]
1. What is the best news you can imagine? Are you sure that is the best news you can imagine? Is it both specific and universal enough? Does it include you and everyone? This is Christmas - a beginning of transforming Good News into the reality of your life and the life of the world.
2. The best news that God is with us, among us, begins at the beginning - a baby, human and helpless. This news will grow among us. It will surprise us again and again. Looking back from today, how else could this good news begin and grow, but as we do - slowly and surely.
3. Today we take it for granted that Jesus was born in the way described, amid the hay and honored by 3rd shift shepherds. Can we still be surprised and have praise be our response to surprise instead of startled dismissal. With Mary, may you wonder as you wander. May you understand what the good news means for you and follow where it leads.
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