The Unforgettable Gift

Luke 2: 1-20) Christmas Eve

Tonight, even as our world is on a heightened terror alert, reminding us of the evil that exists among us, our eyes turn once again to that bright star in the east, the star that leads to the light of love, to the light of peace, the star that leads to the light of hope for humankind. For tonight is born in the City of David, a gift from God, whose life is timeless, whose appeal endless, and whose purpose is saving and far reaching. This evening we remember the birth of Jesus, a gift given to humanity over 2000 years ago. Tonight we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us.

Let us pray. Lord, focus us on your message for tonight, which centers on a baby born to Mary and Joseph many years ago. Fill our hearts with the joy and love that comes from this most unforgettable gift, given to us by your grace. Amen

So what gifts did you receive last year for Christmas? Do you remember? Do they still work? Do they still fit? Do you even know where they are? Quit honestly many of us don't remember what we received last year, and if we do often times it's something that ends up broken, or shoved in a closet after we've lost interest. The truth is, the excitement of Christmas, the unwrapping of gifts and big family dinners, tends to be short-lived and dissipates as a new year begins and the days begin to go by once again.

Why is this? Why is it that a day so looked forward to comes and goes so quickly, eventually becoming a blur as the newness of spring comes upon us and the warmth of summer approaches?

It's because we haven't taken the time to reflect on the real meaning of the season and what it means to us personally and spiritually. It's because, even though the world is so large and so full of everything imaginable, it's really unable to satisfy our human heart.

I'm convinced if we take Christ completely out of Christmas, as some seem to want to do, this season we treasure will cease to exist. What keeps Christmas alive and unforgettable isn't the sales and decorative malls, it's Christ. Without Christ as the reason for the season, the secular aspects of Christmas would fade away like a sunset on the horizon.

During the Christmas season many spend a great deal of time looking for the perfect gift, the gift that will bring ultimate satisfaction and joy.

But you see this heart of ours has a special need, it has a hole in it if you will, a special place that can only be satisfied by one gift, the gift of Jesus. Try as we may, all the toys, jewelry, computer games, and stuff that is so fun to buy and receive cannot replace the need for Jesus in our lives, and never will. And it's when we learn, understand, and acknowledge this truth that our lives take on new meaning, and we gain an eternal perspective on what Christmas is all about.

It's only when we recognize Jesus as our savior that we begin to understand our purpose in life, and by understanding our purpose, the satisfaction we so desperately seek at Christmas becomes reality, it becomes a part of us. God not only becomes incarnate in Jesus, but God becomes part of us as well, as his Spirit lives in and among us.

What I've come to learn over the past 44 years is that there's only one gift that transcends time, only one gift that keeps on giving, only one gift that I can truly say is unforgettable and worthy of constant praise, and that's the gift of Jesus.

Lets face it how many of us would gather year after year to celebrate the gift of a TV or microwave we received say 20 years ago. Yet here we are over 2000 years later celebrating this one gift from God, Jesus Christ. So there must be something more to Christmas and this divine gift, because we keep gathering year after year to remember and to celebrate.

God's gift to us, the baby Jesus, is a gift given to all people, a gift that keeps on giving even after all the Christmas trees are taken down, the decorations put away, and the batteries become drained in our electronic gadgets.

This little baby born to Mary and Joseph, in the little town of Bethlehem is in deed a special gift, the wellspring of God's love, a gift not bound by time or memory. Through the birth of Jesus, God has entered human history for the sake of our salvation. And this gift requires no batteries, and assembly not required, all that is needed to receive this gift is faith.

The Christmas story comes alive again and again, year after year, as followers of Jesus live their faith and serve others for Jesus' sake, not just this one night, but every day of our lives. Each year, the Spirit of Christmas is channeled through the faith and love of our church family and all of you here tonight, as we gather to worship the new born king.

As followers of Jesus, know that God can work many miracles through our willingness to share the love of Christ. And it's through our sharing of the love of Jesus, that God's gift to humanity is given, not just this night, but all days and all nights. Our community and the world are full of opportunities where God can use us to reach out to others to share his love, to heal, to help, and to bring salvation to a broken world. In other words to share the Christmas miracle.

Yes, this gift we often take for granted is truly a special gift. Jesus is the only gift that never gives up on us, even when we treat him like a worn out Christmas toy, or toss him aside when something new comes along, as we sometimes do.

Jesus loves us unconditionally and constantly seeks a relationship with us. Jesus is the only gift that really makes us whole, thus satisfying the need in our hearts. Jesus is the only gift that can save us from ourselves, and from others. And Jesus is the only gift that lasts for all eternity. On this joyful night, allow the knowledge and love of Christ to fill your heart, and move you to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace. (Isaiah 9:6)


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