Title: The Live Christmas Story
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Bible Reading: Juke 2:1-7
Preached at Turramurra Uniting Church in Sunday 24th November, 2019
Today’s service was to celebrate the message of Christmas with all our young friends and their families from the youth communities connected to the life of Turramurra Uniting Church – Turratots Occasional Childcare centre, Bugz kids youth group, TurraTurtles playgroup, Kids Church and others – along with a lively group of live farm animals.
Today’s recording reflects the “organised chaos” that comes with a church full of children and live sheep, goats and even a calf. Keep your finger on the volume button on your computer as the sound recordings go up and down. We are so sorry that would could not bring you footage to match the audio. You’ll need to paint your own mental picture of joyous children, farm animals and an animated Phil celebrating with song and stories, of the wonderful message of the Birth of Christ.
How are we enjoying the service so far? There is one other big thing that I would like to do. I would like to tell you the story of the very first Christmas.
But is much more than just a story. This is one of the greatest stories every told – and so today I don’t just want to tell you the story, I want the story to come alive!!!
But I am going to need some help. I need lots of kids and young people (and even adults) to help me make a live nativity scene up the front here.
But first you need to go to the “wardrobe” section up the back. If all the kids want to head up the back and find something to wear – it will make the nativity more alive (and the photos look better).
While the kids are getting ready – I have 3 minutes to tell you a Christmas story, and I have a great story to share with you:
It was Christmas morning, and the minister of the local boys home for troubled kids was trying to finish his Christmas sermon when Mrs Pimble, the floor mother, appeared at the door. There was another problem with one of the boys.
Christmas was always a difficult time at the home. Many of boys would go home overnight, and the boys that were left would react to the empty beds and the changed routine.
The minister sighed and followed the floor mother upstairs. This time it was little Tommy, he had crawled under his bed and was refusing to come out. Mrs Pimble pointed to one of six beds in the small dormitory.
The minister could not see anything poking out from under the bed. He said to the unseen boy, “Come out Tommy. There is so many exciting things waiting for you. There is a beautiful tree downstairs and wonderfully wrapped packages underneath. Come out and find the good things which are waiting for you.”
The minister was starting to get frustrated. He still had a sermon to finish downstairs. This time he dropped to his hands and knees and lifted the bedspread. Two enormous eyes looked out from the darkness. Tommy was eight, but looked like a five year old. It would have been no trouble just to pull him out, but pulling him out wasn’t what was needed. The minister could see that he needed to get Tommy to trust him and decide to come out on his own.
So, crouched there on all fours the minister launched into the menu of the Christmas dinner which was being cooked downstairs. Chicken, potatoes, peas, even Christmas pudding and custard. He also explained how there was a Christmas stocking downstairs with his name on it, full of presents just for him.
Still no response. There was no indication that he even heard the good things that were waiting for him, or even cared about Christmas.
At last the minister could think of no other way to make contact with Tommy. He got down on his stomach and wriggled in under the same bed and squashed up next to the little boy. For what seemed a long time, the boy and the minister just layed there, saying nothing.
Then the minister started to explain to Tommy that he wanted him to share all the wonderful things that have been prepared for him. The tree, the dinner, the presents.
When he ran out of things to say, the minister went quiet again. As he waited, he felt a small cold hand creep into his. After a little bit the minister said, “You know, Tommy, it is a little squashy under here. Let’s you and me go out so we can stand up.”
And so they did, slowly, in no hurry. And when Tommy was ready, the minister took him downstairs and they enjoyed Christmas together.
What happened to the minister’s sermon? He realised he would say the lesson about Christmas that Tommy had taught him. You see, the minister had treated Tommy in the same way that God has treated us.
God loves us more than we can imagine, and right from the beginning of time has tried to tell us about his love, to show us all the good things that we has in store for us, and to convince us to trust him and follow him.
And but this story really came alive in that first Christmas when God, just like the minister, got down on our level and became one of us … when God became human.
God, in Jesus Christ, lived with us, taught us about God, and showed how much God loves us. The challenge to us is will we, just like Tommy, put our hand into Jesus hand and let him lead us onto the abundant life which God has planned for us?