It’s always difficult to tell a familiar story in a new way. Once you’ve heard something a thousand times, it just doesn’t come with that same excitement. And no story is probably more familiar and more frequently told than the Christmas story! Mary, Joseph, angels, the manger, animals, wise men, shepherds, Jesus—we all think we’ve got the details of the story down. But assuming we know the whole story can cause us to miss out on some of the most important parts—the who’s, the what’s, and the why’s behind what happened. We do this with God all the time! We think we know who God is, what God thinks, and why God lets things happen, and because of that, we miss out on what’s really going on behind the scenes in God’s story. That’s exactly what happened in the lives of some of the other key players in the Christmas story. Behind Mary and Joseph and all those other familiar names there was Zechariah. He was agerly hoping God would write a new story in his life, but when it wasn’t playing out as he’d hoped, he started to make assumptions about God’s ability to come through for him. But as we see how his story unfolded leading up to the first Christmas, we’ll see that the story God is telling will always exceed our assumptions and expectations.
When’s the last time you made a false assumption about a person or a situation?
What are some common assumptions people make about God?
Think about a challenging or confusing situation from the past. If you can, fill in the blank:
Because __________________ happened, God must be _________________. (situation) (adjective)
Luke 1:11-13, 18; Luke 1:34-38
New International Version (NIV)
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid,Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Are you more prone to assume that God WILL work in your story the way you want God to, or do you typically assume that God WON’T? Explain your answer.
To you, what does it mean to say that God is working “behind the scenes?”
What’s one assumption that you might need to drop about God?
What’s one way you could search for truth about who God is, instead of relying on emotions and assumptions?
Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming nurture our growth as people of repentance and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN.
L: Go in peace, changing our assumptions.
C: Thanks be to God!
Mark the Cross of Christ on each others foreheads as a remembrance of your baptism and say these words...
"(Name) you are a beloved Child of God."
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