Theme: The Most Important Birthday of All
In these lessons on the birth of Christ we focus on its paradoxes, and how these show that Jesus’ coming is for all who will receive him.
Scripture: Luke 2
Birthdays are usually very happy times. For that reason we generally try to remember the birthdays of close friends. We who have children cannot forget birthdays; the children will remind us. When we get older we are supposed to be too sophisticated to remind people that our birthday is coming, but we are always pleased when they remember. 
Of all the birthdays that are remembered there is no birthday that has been remembered more faithfully by more people over a longer period of time than the birthday of Jesus Christ. The birth of Christ is not only remembered by Christian people. We would expect that of Christians. The birth of Christ is also remembered by many non-Christian people, and these even have a kind of sentimental attachment to the Christmas story. When we watch the television shows at Christmas we see a great deal that is easy to forget. But sometimes, even on the worst of programs, there will be a segment in which people get serious and talk about the birth of Jesus. Occasionally they will even read a portion of the chapter which is to occupy us now. 
What is there about this story that so claims the attention of our contemporaries and will continue to claim the attention of many who come after us? Some would point to “the sentimental nature of the story.” Some would say, “It’s a religious story and maybe one of the best. People are kind of religious, that’s all.”
I think there is more to it than that. The story is a magnificent one. But above all it is a story of compelling paradoxes. It is a tale of purity surrounding an unwed mother. Under normal circumstances this would be the kind of thing men joke about, but there is no breath of low humor in the story. There is an aura of holiness over all of it. It is a tale of joy in what could well have been a tragedy. In Judaism at this time, to commit fornication and have evidence of it in the arrival of a child was a crime, punishable in some instances by stoning. Perhaps this is what Joseph was afraid of when he did not want to make Mary’s condition public, but wanted to put her away privately. Yet God worked in the story in such a way that Mary, who is faced with the problem, rejoiced in the Lord. When she saw Elizabeth she broke forth into that joyful hymn we know as “The Magnificat.”
Study Questions:

What two paradoxes are mentioned?
Locate the biblical passages that mention each of these paradoxes.  How are they described?  What do you learn about both God the Father and Christ?

Reflection: How do non-Christians tend to respond to the real meaning of Christmas?  How are their celebrations characterized?  Are there any ways in which the church has lost her focus and has fallen into some of the same practices or misplaced emphases?

Study Questions
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