Summary: A short talk given to 480 school children plus their parents most of whom are not yet Christians but love Christmas. A challenging message to give ourselves to God in response to his priceless gift to us.

I had an email from my friend Frederic in Rwanda yesterday. He was telling me that the children at his Church will be gathering with their parents at 2 pm on Christmas Eve for singing, dancing, and drama. There won’t be any food on offer as the Church is not able to feed such a large number. When we gather for our Christmas Eve services there will be singing but I haven’t seen many of you dance – especially you parents! There will plenty of food as we love to celebrate with food at Christmas. There will be differences between what we do and what happens at Frederic’s church in Rwanda but also many similarities. We will both be gathering to thank God for Jesus, his priceless gift (2 Cor 9:15).

(Thanks to Dennis O’Gorman for this illustration). Ernie Smith was a bit odd, but he was a good man. For Ernie every day was Christmas. Each day he switched on his Christmas tree lights. His house was full of cards.

As he passed people in the street he would wish them a Happy Christmas! On Valentine’s Day he wished people a Happy Christmas! On Bonfire Night he wished people a Happy Christmas! All through the year, each and every day he wished people a Happy Christmas! One warm summer day his family visited him. They went to the beach to enjoy the sun and looked forward to a bar-b-q back at Ernie’s house, but instead he gave them Turkey, the trimmings and tinsel! They enjoyed the meal even though it was a hot summer day and Ernie wished them all a Happy Christmas! On Easter Day his family gathered and they expected to exchange Easter eggs but for pudding that day Ernie served up mince pies and Christmas pudding, and he wished them all a happy Christmas. “Ernie”, they asked, “Why are you celebrating Christmas when it’s Easter?” Ernie replied, “Jesus was born so that he could live and teach and heal people and then die on a cross and rise again. Easter is possible because of Christmas.”

Each and every day Ernie celebrated the coming of Jesus into the world and whilst I won’t be wishing you a happy Christmas every day that I see all of you I do thank God every day for his wonderful, priceless gift of Jesus for me, for you and for the whole world.

In the Bible we read this: “Let us thank God for his priceless gift” (2 Cor 9:15).

Imagine for a moment being invited to a really special birthday party. Perhaps it’s your Head teacher’s birthday, but we won’t ask him how many years he will be celebrating for his next birthday, will we! Or perhaps imagine being invited to the Queen’s birthday party – someone even more special than your Head teacher! We’re all invited and we’re all excited. We head off to the palace and the time comes for us to present our gifts to the Queen because it is her birthday; but instead of giving gifts to the Queen we all start giving gifts to each other instead!

That would be really strange wouldn’t it, and maybe even a bit rude, and in some ways a bit funny. It’s the Queen’s birthday party and she doesn’t get any gifts. We just give gifts to each other!

Christmas can be a bit like that. It’s Jesus’ birthday party. I love giving and receiving gifts to remember the priceless gift of Jesus for me and the whole world, but do we give a gift to him on his birthday?

As a Christian I aim to give myself to Jesus as a gift of thanks to him. I aim to give my life to him, asking him to help me live as he wants me to live, because I am thankful that God has given me Jesus - a priceless gift.

How about each one of us this Christmas? (Many thanks to J. John for this excellent illustration) As we exchange gifts and as we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, will we give ourselves to Jesus as a gift of thanks?

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