I want to ask us a question: What words do you associate with Christmas? I did that exercise with myself and this is the list of words that came to me as I thought about Christmas. It was joy, decorations, parties, presents, Santa, trees, and cards. I think it's very telling that as your senior pastor none of these answers involve Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, or the manger. It just goes to show what a worldly pastor I am. But I think these kind of resonate with a lot of us. This is generally the picture that we get of Christmas, people having a good time and enjoying themselves and having a generally joyful season together.
Well, there are two more words that I want to introduce to us to think about as being part of Christmas. How about shame and disgrace? When you think about Christmas, do you also think about the words shame and disgrace? Are those the kind of words that come to mind? Maybe so. Maybe if you've gone to a holiday party and things didn't go especially well, you know shame and disgrace. But for most of us, Christmas and shame don't really go together. If anything they seem opposite like they're not really the same kind of thing at all. What's really strange is that shame and disgrace are actually essential parts of the Christmas story. In order to understand that, we need to compare how Mary finds out about the birth of Jesus or that she is pregnant and how Joseph finds out, and see there is a subtle difference between the two.
The annunciation to Mary and Joseph
The annunciation to Mary is a very famous passage in Luke 1. It's celebrated in many Christian traditions. It's a powerful moment where the angel Gabriel comes to Mary directly and the first thing he says is, "Do not be afraid," because she's ...
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