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The Indescribable Gift From God - John 3:10-21
 
We called the Sears catalogue the Wish Book when I was a kid. We poured over its pages as we composed letters to Santa Claus. We hoped beyond hope that all that we wished for would come true. As I recall. My folks would ask, as we shared the letter to Santa with them, " what is it that you really want especially on that list?" Many of our hopes and dreams became reality but not all.  It didn't seem to matter that all on the list didn't come as long as one special thing on that list became reality.
 
People of Israel had been praying a special prayer and hoping beyond hope for many years for a special gift to their nation, the birth of the Messiah. As they looked at the Bible as a wish book, they compiled a list of many things that they hoped for, hoping beyond hope that all would come true.
 
Every devout family hoped that theirs would be the family through which the Messiah descended and blessed the world. Mothers hoped that their little girls might be the mother of the Messiah. Fathers hoped for their little boys that they might be the father of the Messiah. 
 
Over the years this hope didn't diminish but grew stronger. The problem was that the desire for other gifts besides this one gift made the majority miss the undescribable gift when God finally sent Him into the world. "He came to His own and His own received Him not. " Many had gotten confused about what the main promise was; the gift of a person to deliver them. They had replaced that spiritual gift with a worldly gift of power and stature in a world that had rejected God. Good motives but focussed on themselves and not on becoming an extension of that gift to the world as God had predisposed them to be when Messiah came.
 
The Indescribable Gift God Gave In The Fullness of Time 
Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 9:26b; Malachi 3:1-12
 
The world was lying in the dark, and the land where the people lived was deep in darkness. It was dark as the night in the daytime. It had been dark for so long that the people had forgotten what The Light was like. This is what they did; they lit small candles for themselves and pretended it was day. But the world was a gloomy place, and the people who walked in darkness were lonelier than they knew, and these lonely people were sadder than they could say. 
But God was in love with the world.
 
God looked down and saw that the world was stuck, like a clock at midnight. " No," He said, " This isn't good. It's time to make time tick again. " The the Almighty God said, " Time; time to turn the earth from night to morning. " And God was in love with The People especially.
 
He saw their little candlelight, and He pitied their pretending. "They think they see, " He said, 
" but all they see is shadow, and people are frightened by shadows. Poor people! " He said, 
" They wonder why they are afraid. " God watched the people move about like fireflies in the night, and He shook His head. " Poor people, pretending to be happy, " He said, " Well, I want them to be happy. It's time, " declared the Lord our God.  " It's time to do a new thing. "
 
The Indescribable Gift Given To Mary - Luke 1:26-38; Isaiah 7:14
God's Sacrificial Gift of Himself and Mary's Sacrificial Gift of Compliance
 
So God sent an angel flying through the night. So swiftly he flew that nobody noticed. Across the continents the angel went, to a particular province named Galilee, to a city named Nazareth, and then in that city to a particular house, to a particular young lady sleeping in that house. Her name was Mary. She was young and blameless and lovely in her bed, as innocent as a lily. Her lashes were long and black. She was a virgin, but she dreamed of a man named Joseph, because they were betrothed, and would marry soon. She was smiling in her sleep.
 
The angel Gabriel appeared at her side and began to grow bright. Light beamed in her bedroom. So Mary frowned a little in her sleep. She stirred and she sighed.
 
Brighter and brighter grew the angel, until he blazed like the sun. " Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you. "  he said; his voice ringing in her bed chamber.  
 
Poor Mary awoke with a terrible start. Her eyes flew open, and she saw the brilliant light beside her, and she heard the glorious greeting in her ears, and she caught her breath, and covered her mouth with her hand because she was afraid. " God favors me? " Mary was trembling. Her mind racing in this unearthly light. His greeting troubled her; " What does it mean? What is he saying? Why would an angel come to me? "
 
Mary suddenly sat still covering her mouth and she could not speak because she was afraid.
God whispered to Gabriel, " Hurry, Gabriel ! Comfort her! "
 
" Don't be afraid Mary ! " said the angel more gently and the light grew warmer than bright, and it touched her, just on the forehead, with a single beam of kindness; " You have found favor with God. " So Mary grew calmer; her mind grew quiet and she began to listen intently. 
 
" Behold ! "  said Gabriel, " You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name, Jesus. " And then he sang in tones most melodious, " Mary, The child of your labor shall be great; The Son of the Most High shall He be called; And His Father, God, shall give Him the throne of His forefather David; over the house of Jacob He shall reign, Forever, and ever; His kingdom shall have no end. "
 
" A baby? " thought Mary, " A baby? "  How dear was the promise. How deeply she longed for it to be true.
 
But there was a problem that she could not ignore. Her problem was not the greatness of the baby; not His kingship; not that His kingdom would last forever; but first of all, the baby needed a father. Hope was troubled by this dilemma. Maybe the angel didn't understand about human bodies. Some things happen first for other things to happen second, and so Mary astonished herself. She actually spoke to the angel before her; " How can this be?, " she wondered out loud , " I'm not married yet,  you see. Betrothed, yes but I am a virgin!" And God in heaven began to smile.
 
And then with joy in his voice accompanied with a sound that may have been the creaking of the walls or the crackling of the universe for the thing that he was telling Mary was a miracle after all.  He said, " The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of God will overshadow you; for this reason your holy offspring will be called the Son of God. Listen to me now, your kinswomen Elizabeth who was called barren bears a child in her age beyond childbearing. Remember this, with God nothing is impossible. '
 
So Mary, kneeling, now bowing before the Lord, whispered, " Behold, " (deep, deep inside she felt joy leaping forth ) " Behold! I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word. "  Which word was, Mary was going to be the mother of the Messiah; she was going to have a baby. 
So the angel was finished with his joyous task and he disappeared. The bright light faded from her bedroom but Mary didn't mind the darkness now for she had seen the light.
 
" A baby! " Oh she jumped from her bed and gladness welled up in her heart. Oh, she clapped her hands and twirled about; and her dark hair flew like glory around her head. Oh, the virgin was laughing now, for the Virgin was going to have a baby and she would name Him Jesus.
 
And she ran like the wind through the world, through the darkness, as fast as she could go to her friend, her close kinswomen, Elizabeth and she sang the song that the angel sang to her to Elizabeth. " My soul, " she sang, " My soul exalts the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour! He is keeping His promise to us. I am going to have a baby, the Messiah has come. " 
 
So there in the middle of the gloomy world there were two women laughing. They rejoiced until they could laugh no more, and then they began to weep with gladness. 
 
And God smiled down from heaven and saw them. And the Lord God laughed with them. 
 
The Indescribable Gift Given To Joseph - Matthew 1:18-25
God's Gift of Revelation & Joseph's Gift of Compliance
 
In those days the dark world had some dark rules by which a man could put a woman away; divorce her like they had never been betrothed at all. If a woman had a baby by someone not her husband, then her husband could get her out of his life forever, even have her stoned to death. That was the rule.
 
One night after discovering that Mary was going to have a baby,  Joseph, a righteous and honorable man, Mary's betrothed husband, lay upon his bed and agonized over this rule. He struggled with the words, almost speaking them aloud, " I will put her away but privately so she will not be disgraced. " He was in agony and tears rolled from his eyes for he loved her deeply.
 
Then God, turned to his angel and said, " I have a mission for you."  " What is it Lord? " " Go down to Joseph of Nazareth. Go down right now. Tell him the truth about Mary. He is being blinded by the darkness. He thinks that Mary has sinned. Go ! Go ! "
 
So a light grew bright in Joseph's sleep and the brightness of the angel shined inside his mind and became his dream. " Joseph, Son of David, " said the angel as Joseph slept on; but he heard; and he saw;  and he remembered; and the more he heard the happier he became and his mourning was turned into joy. 
 
" Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid of taking Mary to be your wife", said the messenger from God. " Mary didn't sin. She didn't lie to you. The baby that she carries is going to be a boy and He was conceived through the Holy Spirit. You shall call His name Jesus. You know what that name means; He will save His people from their sins. "
 
" Joseph, Behold! Listen to me!  Sin has brought this darkness to your world. This baby shall be its light for He shall shine in the darkness and take away the sin of the world. God is keeping His promise, something wonderful is happening. Emmanuel, God with us is Who He is. I am with you."
 
With these words the angel departed and the dream subsided, and all that was left was a man in Nazareth smiling in his sleep.
 
Conclusion:
 
Have you lost the wonder of the story because of the darkness of our world?
 
Recapture the joy of Christmastide with the utterly indescribable gift that God gave to us 2000 years ago. 
 
" And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,  as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. " John 1:14 
 
Living Again With New Dreams
 
I've dreamed many dreams that never came true, 
I've seen them vanish at dawn, 
But I have realized enough of my dreams, thank God,
To make me want to dream on.
 
I've prayed many prayers when no answer came,
Though I waited patient and long;
But answers have come enough of my prayers
To make me keep praying on.
 
I've trusted many a friend who failed
And left me to weep alone;
But I've found enough of my friends true blue
To make me keep trusting on.
 
I've sown many seed that fell by the way
For the birds to feed upon,
But I've held enough golden sheaves in my hands
To keep me sowing on.
 
I've drained the cup of disappointment and pain,
And gone many days without song;
But I've sipped enough nectar from the roses of life
To make me live on.
   - Author Unknown
 
Could this have been a poem written at Christmastide?
 
I don't know but it robs the devil of despair he thrusts at us and gives us hope in its place..
 
It expresses the hopes and fears of all the years that became reality in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.
 
" For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world should be saved through Him. "
 

Stories for each point edited and adapted from  Measuring The Days, Daily Reflections with Walter Wangerin, Jr.
 
Poem from a sermon Daring To Dream Again preached at Community Christian Church, Black River Falls by Kenneth Mason, Stanley, Wisconsin. 
" Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift ! " 2 Corinthians 9:15