We all love a good story. Good stories make you feel like you are a part of the action. You can see yourself in them. They can make us laugh, or cry, or get angry. I heard this little bit on the news the other night and it stuck with me. Can you guess what one of the industries was that suffered the least during the Great Depression? Hollywood. Even in the midst of harsh economic times people made time for stories.
As Christians you and I are stewards of the greatest true story ever told. That story is the story of God’s interaction with the people He created. It is the story that you are hearing again tonight through those familiar Christmas readings. It is the story of how sin came into the world, and how from the very beginning God was working out our salvation culminating in Jesus’ death and resurrection. As stewards of this story you and I are actually storytellers ourselves. And we aren’t just telling someone else’s story. It is your story and mine. It is a story that we enter through our baptisms into Jesus through faith. It is a story that you hear, learn, and repeat in your church, your family, and in your life.
Anytime you join together as a church for worship you hear this story. You hear it through the changing of the seasons. During advent, we anticipate the birth of Christ. Christmas we celebrate His birth. In Lent we remember the 40 days Jesus spent being tempted in the wilderness, and the somber mood of the season reflects that time. Then, in Holy Week we walk with Jesus through the last week of His earthly life. From his triumphant entry into Jerusalem celebrated on Palm Sunday, to Maundy Thursday remembering the institution of the Lord’s Supper, to Good Friday when we remember His death on the Cross. And all of that culminating in the greatest day in the church year, Easter, when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and announce that He is living still!
In addition to the changing seasons you also hear the story in church through the music you sing, the sermons you hear, and the Bible studies you attend.
As a church you hear the story; as a family you teach the story to and learn the story from each other. The greatest responsibility any parent has is to bring his or her children up in such a way that they know Christ. Parents, you are the ones who are to teach the story of Jesus to your children. You do it when you pray with your kids at night before they go to sleep and at meals. You teach them the story through the time you spend reading from the Bible. You teach your children about Christ through your everyday conversations and interactions. And your children, having learned the story from you, will in turn teach it to their children and their grandchildren.
Stories are meant to be told. They are meant to be shared and repeated. You and I have opportunity to repeat that story in many different ways. Maybe someone will come right out and ask you what it is that you believe. Or maybe your opportunity will present itself in a more subtle way when you meet someone who is grieving or struggling in some other way in his or her life. In those moments you have the chance to comfort them with the lasting peace and hope that only Jesus can give. The opportunities God gives you to repeat this story are endless.
You have received God’s greatest gift: the gift of grace through faith in Jesus. Share that gift with someone else this Christmas. Times are tough. Money is tight. This gift is free. Tell the story. Amen!
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 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.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
– Luke 2:1-20