Summary: Of all the Christmas gifts/presents given and received, Christ is the Greatest Gift.
Christmas Eve/Day Yr A, 24-25/12/2010
Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson, Chaplain,
The Good Samaritan Society’s South Ridge Village,
Medicine Hat, Alberta
“Christ is the Greatest Gift”
(This sermon begins by showing the congregation a Christmas-decorated gift bag or box containing a Nativity scene inside).
Can anyone tell me what I have here? Right, it’s a Christmas present, a gift. Do you know what is inside of this Christmas bag/box? No. Do you think you would ever know what this Christmas gift is if you never opened it? No, not likely. Do you think that you would benefit from this Christmas gift in any way if you refused to open it? Again the answer is no.
Well, the same is true of the greatest Christmas gift. (Show them the Nativity scene). Christ is the greatest gift of Christmas. Yet multitudes turn away from Christ the greatest gift. Their hearts and minds are closed; their lives are filled with other gods and saviours. So many folks in our society just don’t seem to get the true message of Christmas—therefore they miss out on receiving Christ the greatest gift of Christmas. Oh yes, they do get the message about giving presents or gifts. However, the gifts they give and receive are most often material. Folks spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on the latest technological gadgets, the most up-to-date fashion clothes or jewellery. You’ve even likely seen television reports where crowds become impatient and hysterical; waiting for stores to open so they can push and shove each other aggressively and be the first to grab this year’s trendiest item off the shelf before the person behind or in front or beside them beats them to it. Yes, folks in our society do know how to give gifts at Christmas and, of late, we hear increasingly of consumers who suffer from out-of-control spending at Christmas time. They max out their credit cards on gifts and then spend a half year or more paying for it all.
Such folks live under the illusion that whoever ends up with the most material gifts at Christmas wins and is the most popular person in the world. They may even be motivated to buy all of their gifts for others with the hope and conditional expectation that the more gifts they give to others; the more gifts they themselves shall receive. Problem is, others may not reciprocate. Or if they do, the gifts may be the last thing they were wanting. Even if they do get the material gifts that they wanted—how long are they content? That old nagging reality inside the soul is still there. The writer of Ecclesiastes said it well: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Jesus, too, said it best: “For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?” No, all the material gifts in the world are not going to guarantee that you can achieve the happiest Christmas ever. As a matter of fact, the opposite may be true. You may be irritable and resentful because of all the added stress of fighting your way through mad crowds and traffic gridlock. The recipients of your gifts may not have shown you as much appreciation as you had expected. And, maybe an argument broke out after your spouse or children told you that your gift missed the boat altogether.