Christmas Snapshots – Christmas Day 2023

Christmas Snapshots – Christmas Day 2023

Christmas Snapshots
Bible Reading: Luke 2:1-20
Preacher: Phil Swain

Kids Talk – The Christmas Tutor Education System!
Sermon – “Christmas Snapshots” how the Biblical Christmas story shows us a snapshot of a profound truth.

The Christmas Day sermon is always a tricky thing to do.  It feels like everyone comes on Christmas day to see each other, to joyfully sing the Christmas songs and to check out the creative kids talk.  By the time the sermon comes around, let’s be honest … you are already thinking about what is next on the Christmas Day plan!  But I think that there is something profound in the good news of Christmas that I want to share with you this Christmas morning … but don’t worry.  I will make it snappy.

Snappy.  That gives me an idea.  Christmas is synonymous with taking photos isn’t it?  When the kids are opening presents or when we get the family together and we are all wearing those paper crowns … someone is going to pull out the camera and take a picture.  Here are some of the snapshot of my Christmas over the years.

(I am not sure of that first one … my mum insisted that the only one she could find was one where I am not wearing any pants.  Thanks mum)

Snapshots of Christmas are great … and the bible reading we just hear had a number of snapshots in it … not pictures but words snapshots.  These words in the bible reading paint pictures that give us a glimpse into the Christmas story.  I wonder if we look a little closely at these snapshots we might be able to see something profound …

For example – Luke 2:4 … Joseph went to Bethlehem to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

We get this snapshot, this picture of Joseph and young Mary travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem.   But within this picture is a hint of something more – she is expecting a child.  We know from other parts of the Bible that there is a whole story behind that one line – but at this point in Luke’s version, it is just a snapshot … she is expecting a child.

 A few verses later we get another snapshot.  “While they were there she gave birth to a son.  She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them”.

This snapshot is of Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus where the animals live (because of the manger).  But sometimes the picture we see might be misleading. 

We could assume that because they are with the animals that they were all alone when Jesus was born … just Mary, Joseph and little Jesus with a donkey for company – but that certainly would not have been the case.  They were in Bethlehem – their ancestral town – and because of the census all the extended family would have been there too.  Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, the whole tribe.  There was so many family members there that … there was no guest room available for them in any of the local family homes.  It was so crowded that all the good rooms were taken and Mary and Joseph ended up sleeping where the animals were kept – where Jesus was laid in a manger … a simple, practical solution.

Have you ever had a Christmas like that – so full of family that you were running out of room where to sleep people?  So many relatives that you couldn’t fit around the table for the Christmas meal?  These snapshots from the Christmas story can trigger snapshots in our own lives.  We begin to see ourselves in the Christmas story.

For example, you might not have the experience of huge families around you at Christmas time like Mary and Joseph … but maybe you can connect with the Shepherds in our reading.  They were just a few of them, out in the fields, looking after the sheep.  They were used to being alone – the society at the time treated them as outsiders because they were poor.  They were often overlooked, they were nobodies.

But not to God – God chose them to be the first ones to hear the good news of Christmas.  We have this snapshot of an angel appearing to the shepherds.  “Do not be afraid!” said the Angel.  (Which is easier said than done … as anyone who has struggled with anxiety or fear would know.  It’s hard not to be afraid when faced with the unknown, faced with change.

The angel persisted and we get another snapshot, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you Good News of Great Joy … for you and all people!  A Saviour has been born”  and then a company of angels – thousands of angels – joined in a sang glory to God.  I love this snapshot … as for me it shows the generosity and extravagance of God.  God didn’t need to send a company of angels, I am sure that the shepherds got the message with the first angel, but for some of us, Christmas is about giving, about being generous or even extravagant in our giving.  It is part of what brings us joy.

And then the shepherds, being curious, and expectant said, “Let us go and see this thing.”  Can anyone relate to that?  This idea of wanting to know more, wanting to be a part of what was happening?  Yes, No?  Ok – can you relate to them hurrying off?  For most of us Christmas seems to be consumed with hurry, hurry, hurry!

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.  And the experience of being close to Jesus, of kneeling at the manger – we get this snapshot of the shepherds praising God, giving glory to God in worship. 

Whereas Mary, we are told in the final snapshot, pondered all these things, became reflective, and treasured this experience in her heart.

Sorry – I was supposed to be snappy and here I am just repeating the story again in a series of snapshots.  But there was a point.  I said at the beginning that these snapshots can give us some insight into the first Christmas story – and the snapshots we have revealed words like:

  • Family, Busy, Chaotic, No Room
  • Simple, Practical
  • Outsider, alone, poor, nobody
  • Afraid, Anxious, alone
  • Joy, Generous, Extravagant
  • Curious, Hurrying
  • Praising God, Worship
  • Pondering, Reflective, Treasuring things in your heart

In this one part of the Christmas story we get all of these snapshot, these insights.  Let me ask you.  Do any of these words connect with you?  Do you look at one of these words and say … that’s me.  That’s what I am living right now?

I hope so – because that’s the point.  We are supposed to see ourselves in this story because we are part of this story.  The Good News that the angels declared was not just for the shepherds but for all people – for us.

Whether you are surrounded by family or alone this Christmas.  Whether you are in the middle of everything or feeling on the outside. 

Whether you are simple or practical or extravagant and generous

Whether you are anxious, afraid, or curious or worshipful,

Whether you are hurrying from one thing to the next or have stopped to pause and reflect …

The point is that you are in the Christmas story

You are part of the picture

And the good news of the Angels is for you!

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you;

he is the Messiah, the Lord. 

Jesus has come to you

to help you, to be with you,

to rekindle hope, to surround you with joy, and peace

and give you love.

All we need to do is to accept this amazing gift that God is offering us through Jesus.