Welcome to Christmas at Pathway.
Just like last time, I have a fun challenge for you. Let's see how fast you can identify five traditional Christmas movies. I'll show the picture, you say the movie. But this time there's a twist. Last time, I showed you a main character from the movie. This time, I'm not. I'm going to show you a relatively unimportant character. Let's see how well you do.
Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
It's a Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street
Scrooge / A Christmas Carol
We celebrate Christmas because that's the day Jesus was born.
We celebrate the day Jesus was born for two huge reasons.
The first one is that Jesus is God coming to earth as a human. Christmas is when God became human without ceasing to be God. He did this by being born of Mary, in the most wondrous and humble and counterintuitive way possible.
The second reason is that he is the Savior of the world, and especially of everyone who receives him.
Let's go back to the original story as it is written in the Bible.
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."" (Matthew 1:18-21)
Our theme at Pathway this year is Joy.
Most people, and I'm including most Christians, don't really understand how important JOY is in the Christian message.
"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:11)
When the glorious angel informed the Virgin Mary that she would bear the Savior, he told her to rejoice.
"And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"" (Luke 1:28)
Before Jesus was born, Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Mary was with child; she would give birth to Jesus. Elizabeth was with child; she would give birth to John. When pre-born Jesus walked in the house, pre-born John leaped for joy in the womb. Pretty cool.
"For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy." (Luke 1:44)
In that epic moment when Jesus was born, the angels described it in terms of joy.
"Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." (Luke 2:10)
When the Wiseman from the east took their epic quest to find the savior, they saw the star above Bethlehem, and they couldn't contain their joy.
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy." (Matthew 2:10)
Joy is a central part of the Christmas story. But it goes beyond that. Joy is a huge part of the Christian message and the Christian worldview.
There has never been a system of faith and teaching as dedicated human joy as the faith of Jesus Christ. True Christianity is about human flourishing.
So my main idea today is:
Every ingredient for human flourishing and joy is wrapped in the Gift of Christmas.