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Lk 1:26-38 · Ro 16:25-27 · 2Sa 7:1-11, 16 · Lk 1
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Surprise, It's Christmas!
Luke 1:26-38


The greatest thing about Christmas morning is the surprises. When else in life do you get to pile 10, 20, 30, 40 sometimes 50 surprises all together and sit for an hour enjoying each of them? One after another, surprise after surprise. Christmas Morning is wonderful in that way. I can remember still today the way I felt as a child, the amazement, the astonishment of Christmas morning.

Chuck Swindoll writes, "surprises come in many forms and guises: some good, some borderline amazing, some awful, some tragic, some hilarious. But there's one thing we can usually say -- surprises aren't boring." Surprises are woven through the very fabric of all our lives. They await each one of us at unexpected and unpredictable junctures.

I like the story about a professor who sat at his desk one evening working on the next day's lectures. His housekeeper had laid that days mail and papers at his desk and he began to shuffle through them discarding most to the wastebasket. He then noticed a magazine, which was not even addressed to him but delivered to his office by mistake. It fell open to an article titled "The Needs of the Congo Mission".

Casually he began to read when he was suddenly consumed by these words: "The need is great here. We have no one to work the northern province of Gabon in the central Congo. And it is my prayer as I write this article that God will lay His hand on one - one on whom, already, the Master's eyes have been cast - that he or she shall be called to this place to help us." Professor Albert Schweitzer closed the magazine and wrote in his diary: "My search is over." He gave himself to the Congo.

That little article, hidden in a periodical intended for someone else, was placed by accident in Schweitzer's mailbox. By chance he noticed the title. It leaped out at him. Chance? Nope. It was one of God's surprises.

This morning we focus on one of the greatest surprises that ever there was, the surprise that took place when an angel by the name of Gabriel appeared to a young teenager by the name of Mary...

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Leonard Sweet's Sermon

Why Christmas is So Dangerous
Luke 1:26-38

There is no doubt about it. Christmas is a dangerous time of year.

You ever tried negotiating a mall parking lot between Black Friday and Christmas Eve? You know one level of danger.

You ever tried to gather together a fractious, far-flung family into one Christmas moment? You know another level of danger.

You ever tried buying a toy for the kids or grandkids, a toy where levers don't break off, where there are no hidden, choky bits, where glitches galore don't make the toy "unsafe?" You know another whole kind of threat.

But the real "danger" of Christmas is not about parking spaces or perilous toys or dysfunctional families, but is the danger we are all called to open ourselves to during this season of miracles.

Why is Christmas dangerous?
  1. It could go to your head.
  2. It's hard on your heart.
  3. It callouses your hands and feet.
In this week's gospel text Luke unveils the vision Mary had of the angel Gabriel announcing to her the astounding message of the work of God that would change her life. Mary was a first century young Jewish girl, most likely around 13 or 14 years old. As was the custom, and to her good fortune, she was already "betrothed" to be married to Joseph. This "betrothal" was far more than our modern notion of an "engagement." Betrothal was legally binding, a solemn contract. Promises and "bride prices" would have already been exchanged.

As a "betrothed" woman Mary was in effect already legally and morally bound to Joseph. Both her family and Joseph's family were already committed and connected. To "disengage" from such a binding legal and religious contract would require great effort and cast a considerable shadow of possible shame upon both families.

And then came Gabriel...

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