Wednesday, September 20, 2017
It’s A Wonderful Life (Luke 2:1-7)

First United Methodist Church

Glen Rose, Texas

Dec 25, 2011


Series: A Hollywood Christmas

 “It’s A Wonderful Life”

(Luke 2:1-7)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

     I love the response of the people in the Mall; especially the one little boy and his family. The look of surprise, wonder and joy on their faces had to be the same looks that were on the faces of the shepherds and Wise Men and everyone else who came to see the miracle of this day.

     And I love the little boy at the very end, peeking around to see the baby. That’s what we do at Christmas, we peek around all the trappings of Christmas hoping to get a glimpse of this baby who is more than just a baby. Let’s look at the passage for this morning and see if we can’t get one more glimpse of the Christ Child. Luke 2:1-7 (NRSV)

[1] In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.

[2] This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

[3] All went to their own towns to be registered.

[4] Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.

[5] He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

[6] While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.

[7] And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

PRAYER

     I truly believe God is constantly trying to communicate with us to let us know He loves us and cares for us. Just as God used the least likely people to bring about the birth of His Son, I believe God uses unlikely methods to help us understand His message.

     If you stop and think about it, Flash Mobs remind us of the Angels who appeared suddenly to the Shepherds as they watched their flocks. They sang their message and then just as suddenly disappeared.

I. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE:

     A. The title for this morning comes from my favorite Christmas movie of all time, It’s A Wonderful Life.

     We’ve all seen it. It’s the story of George Bailey who spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town, Bedford Falls, and his family. On Christmas Eve he is broken and suicidal over the misplacing of $8,000 and the machinations of the evil millionaire and modern day Herod, Henry F. Potter.

     As the story continues, Clarence show George what the world would have been like if George had never been born. Through the prayers and outreach of his friends and family, George finds out just how important one life can be and how important his life is.

     Like George Bailey, sometimes the troubles, trials and tribulations of life overwhelm us. Sometimes it not even troubles but busyness. We are so busy that we don’t see what’s going on all around us. We’re either busy with work or busy preparing everything for everyone else and we miss the true meaning of what’s going on in our life and the lives of those we love.

     For myself and a number of other preachers I know and have talked to about this, Advent and Christmas are one of those times. We are so busy getting everyone else ready that sometimes, Christmas morning comes and we realize that we’ve missed it all. We can take pride in the fact that we got everyone else ready but we almost missed it.

II. GOD ALWAYS COMES:

     A. I say almost because, at least for me, God always seems to suddenly appear out of nowhere like a Flash Mob. And in the midst of that moment, that look, the gift or a kindness  I see the presence of God, I catch the spirit of Christmas. And suddenly this baby who is more than just a baby becomes real again.

     This year it’s been not only the Bus Fund but the Cantata as well. And there are lots of them over the years but there’s one in particular I want to share this morning since it IS Christmas morning.

     It was right around 10:35 pm. I’d just unlocked all the doors, turned on the lights, got the screens and computers up and running and made a pot of coffee for the two guys I knew who would be coming to our 11:00 pm Candlelight Service. These guys never did anything without a cup of coffee.

     Right on schedule, Roy showed up got his coffee and said thanks preacher, Merry Christmas. About two minutes later Bob showed up.

     It was now about 10:40pm, 20 minutes until the service started. As we were standing there talking, the doors opened and in walked this young couple carrying a baby. I remember thinking, “they look tired.”

     I didn’t recognize them so I went to introduce myself and welcome them to our service. Bob and Roy were right behind me. When they found out I was the pastor they asked for help. They needed diapers, formula and gas money. They were on their way to his parent’s home, trying to get there by Christmas morning so his folks could meet their new grandson on Christmas day. But they’d had car trouble and spent nearly all their travel money on the repairs.

     They got off the Interstate thinking they could find something open or a church where they could get help. Ours was the only one with lights on.

     Bob and Roy scurried around getting the diapers and formula from our Food Pantry which had just been restocked. The couple asked to use the restrooms and asked me to pray with them while my guys got the supplies they needed.

     This couple took off their coats and that's when I realized who they were. I don't remember his name but he had dark hair and a beard. And he was wearing carpenters pants.

     She told us her name was Marlie. She had on a light blue poncho type sweater under her coat. When she told me her name, I was almost afraid to ask what the baby's name was. It was Joshua. If you don’t know, Joshua was probably Jesus’ birth name. You see we've translated His name from the Greek Jesous, who translated it from the Hebrew Yeshua. This baby, Joshua, bundled up in a blanket, never cried or fussed the whole time.

     I asked if they needed a place to stay and they said that would be nice but they’d drive straight through if they had to. I made arrangements for a room at the Inn, the Holiday Inn and gave them some restaurant gift cards we had been collecting for just this kind of thing. Even though it wasn’t part of our policy, Bob, Roy and I even gave them some gas money and told them which gas station would be open. We invited them to stay for worship but they said they needed to get going and get to bed so they could get an early start.

     We saw their car pull out of the parking lot, they waved as they watched us watch them through the big windows of our foyer.

     So, there we were, me, Bob and Roy, three unlikely wise men grinning like idiots with grins as big as Christmas on our faces. I don't know who said it but somebody asked: "You know who that was don't you?"

     Nobody needed to answer. Who else could it be at 11 pm on Christmas Eve. When it was all said and done, we knew who it was who had visited us that night. We didn't give them any Gold but we did give them disposable diapers which is as good as gold to any young couple with an infant.

     We didn't have any Frankincense but we hoped our treatment and hospitality was a fragrant offering to God which gave them hope.

     And we didn't have any Myrrh which was traditionally used for anointing oil but we were able to anoint them in prayer and give them food, shelter and fuel. Like a Flash Mob the Holy Family showed up in the form of a young couple who needed our help on Christmas Eve. And then just as quickly, they were gone.

CONCLUSION:

     We stood there like that family in the Flash Mob scene with the look of surprise, wonder and joy on our faces. We didn’t need a sign, that couple was the sign that lead us right to the very heart of Christmas, making sure we didn’t miss it. And reminding us that because of this baby, because God chose to “be with us” this IS A Wonderful Life of faith and hope.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

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