Summary: At its heart, Christmas means that no matter what else will disappear in the next decade, God’s love will last forever.
I want to begin this evening with some group interaction. Turn to the person next to you and answer this question: “What kinds of things have disappeared in the last ten years?” Or to ask it another way: “What every-day-kind-of-stuff has become extinct in the last decade?” Give your neighbor one answer for that question.
Here are six things that have disappeared in the last decade…
* Big phone books – people are using the web for phone numbers now
* Lick-able stamps – this is a good change.
* Foldable maps – thanks to MapQuest, GPS, and SmartPhones they are mostly a thing of the past.
* Floppy disks – this one disk can only hold about half of one mp3 song.
* Cassettes – sales have gone from a high of 442 million in 1990 to just 250,000.
* VCR’s – like cassettes they are all but a thing of the past.
* The National Hockey League. Ouch! I know I just poured salt in the wound for some of you but I could not help but get a dig in this eternal strike they are having. I couldn’t resist.
This Christmas has been a blockbuster year for technology gifts. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 80% of adults said they intended to purchase some type of technology as a gift this year, the highest number ever.
That ties into an article I read that said, “Ten Years from Now: iPhones will Be Antiques.” The article says that ten years ago, we would have been blown away by a cell phone with far more computing power and memory than the average PC had in 1999…Ten years from now, the iPhone and its ilk will be antiques. Over the next decade, the evolution of computing and the Internet will produce faster, increasingly intelligent devices…The 2000s saw Google become one of the world’s most powerful companies because it helped us get a grip on the sprawling content of the Web. What we will need next, however, is a company that doesn’t just organize data. Google, or the next Google, will have to synthesize all that information and help us understand what it all means.
While there’s no way I can even come close to synthesizing all the information that’s out there, I do want to take a stab at synthesizing the impact of the story of Christmas.
At its heart, Christmas means that no matter what else will disappear in the next decade, God’s love will last forever.
Over the past few weeks I have suggested that our gift-giving can emulate God’s gift giving in three simple ways:
1. God’s gift giving meets human need
2. God’s gift giving is memorable
3. God’s gift giving is meaningful
I also told you that the Christmas story tells us that there were a few things in particular that God wanted to accomplish with the gift of His Son. This evening I want to unpack some of those “Christmas objectives.”
1. GOD WANTED THE GIFT OF HIS SON TO BE A “PERSONAL GIFT.”
In Luke 2:11-12 the angels tell the shepherds: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
I understand that the gift of Jesus transcends times and cultures. But before it can do anything on a global scale it must for do something in me.
“The Gift” will impact the world only after it transforms me, you, and indeed the church. God’s gift is personal – very personal.
2. GOD WANTED THE GIFT OF HIS SON TO BRING PEACE TO TROUBLED HEARTS AND A TROUBLED WORLD
Again, the angels’ proclamation to the shepherds is pertinent. In Luke 2:14 the angels tell us : “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
We have seen our share of troubled hearts this Christmas season. We do not need to rehearse the global anecdotes that show peace has yet to reach its potential.
Dr. Miroslav Volf and Rev. Mike Huckabee were correct a week or so back when they said that the answer to our violence and unrest begins with changed hearts not simply changed laws.
God’s gift of His Son can bring peace in its many manifestations.
3. GOD WANTED THE GIFT OF HIS SON TO FILL HIS PEOPLE WITH JOY.
Again, the angels’ proclamation to the shepherds is pertinent. Luke 2:10 says, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people”
Joy is an indication of the presence of the living God.
“Immanuel” (God with us) will bring joy.