Summary: A sermon about materialism.
“Christmas Is Not Your Birthday: Jesus’ Wish List”
(based on Mike Slaughter's Book)
I remember being about Mary Ellen’s age and trying to remember what I had given my sister Lisa the previous Christmas.
Not able to recall, I went and asked her.
“I don’t remember, but I probably didn’t like it.”
Do you struggle to come up with the perfect gift each Christmas for the special people in your life?
It can be tough, but here’s an even more important question: “What do you give Jesus on His birthday?”
This question brings us back to the focus of this Sermon Series: “Christmas Is Not Our Birthday! It is Jesus’ birthday.”
So, how can we change the focus of Christmas from materialistic self-indulgence to giving Jesus what He wants on His birthday?
How can we make it less about us and more about Jesus?
What can we possibly give the Lord of the universe?
Thankfully, Jesus made His “wish list” unquestionably clear in our Gospel Lesson for this morning.
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
When Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, they were probably absolutely befuddled.
For over two years, they had been with Jesus virtually 24/7, and had never seen Jesus in any of these situations.
But then Jesus clarified what He meant: “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers [and sisters] of mine, you did for me.”
In other words, we can’t separate our relationship with God from our responsibility for other people.
And what we do or don’t do for other people—we do it or don’t do it for Jesus.
In 1st John we are told that evidence of our salvation involves helping other people with their physical needs: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love [one another]. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”
And, “If anyone has material possessions and sees [a brother or a sister] in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
Dear children, let us…love…with actions and truth.”
We serve God when we serve others.
We give to Jesus when we sacrifice of our time, talents, and money to meet the needs of others in Jesus’ name!
Even during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He wanted His followers to know that they were responsible for feeding the hungry in their midst.
Think about the famous “feeding of the 5,000.”
The disciples had wanted to send the crowds away, but Jesus said to them: “You give them something to eat.”
God creates miracles through the resources that you and I hold in our hands…
….Moses’ staff, David’s five smooth stones, the widow’s oil, six water jars at a wedding reception, another widow’s two small coins, and a boy’s lunch of five pieces of bread and two small sardines!!!
These are the resources that miracles are made of!!!
“But we only have five loaves of bread and two fish,” the disciples answered.
“But we are living in the greatest recession since the Great Depression,” we might say today.
“But Jesus we are just a small struggling church and don’t have the resources.”
“But, but, but…”
It’s been said that “it’s time to commit to losing our big buts!”
Jesus needs the five loaves and two fish we have in our hands, no matter how little it may seem!
Jesus blesses what we give Him, multiplies it, and then gives it back to us to give to others.
This is Kingdom Economics 101!!!
Our willingness to obey Jesus and give to Him what is in our hands and in our wallets can literally mean life or death for hundreds of thousands of people around the world!
For example, one child dies every forty-five seconds from a malaria-related cause that can be prevented by a simple mosquito net at a cost of less than $10.00.
And The United Methodist Church has a program called “Imagine No Malaria.”
We are in the top three organizations in the world which provides these nets.
Remember the proclamation I read at the beginning of the service this morning?
Jesus began His public ministry in His hometown of Nazareth by boldly declaring His mission statement:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”