Christmas is a season and holiday filled with surprises. Some Christmas surprises are enjoyable – loving gifts, fun parties, happy memories, meaningful moments. Some Christmas surprises, though, are not so great – unfulfilled expectations, unrealized hopes, personal loneliness, difficult relationships, just to name a few. The first Christmas was filled with surprises. Mary was pregnant even though she was a virgin. Angels appeared to both Joseph (in a dream) and Mary (in person) bringing them messages from God. Caesar Augustus decreed a census of the entire Roman world (why then?) forcing Joseph and Mary to travel 80 miles to Bethlehem just before Jesus’ birth. Lots of the details around Jesus’ birth seemed so unplanned, unexpected, surprising. It’s hard to believe the God of the universe would usher in his son this way! But, that’s often God’s way. He often does the unexpected, the unusual, the surprising. And, along the way he always accomplishes his plans and purposes even if they seem confusing to us. This Christmas we’ll look at some of the surprises in the Christmas story and hopefully learn that God’s surprises in our lives are just like the surprises in the first Christmas – God is up to something good and big, very good and very big!