Summary: Two gifts that kids give us are priorities and purpose.
(Overhead 1) Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby are right, “Kids do say the darnest things.” We never know what they are going to say and sometimes they say the most insightful, amazing, and even somewhat shocking things, especially this time of year when it comes to Jesus and the manger.
In his book, Early Morning Book, John Timpson tells the story of a small boy who was bitterly disappointed at not being cast as Joseph in the school Nativity play. He was given the minor role of the innkeeper instead, and throughout the weeks of rehearsal he brooded on how he could avenge himself on his successful rival.
Came the day of the performance. Joseph and Mary made their entrance and knocked on the door of the inn. The innkeeper opened it a fraction and eyed them coldly. “Can you give us board and lodging for the night?” pleaded Joseph, who then stood back awaiting the expected rebuff.
But the innkeeper had not pondered all those weeks for nothing. He flung the door wide open, beamed genially and cried, “Come in, come in. You shall have the best room in the hotel.”
There was a pause, then with great presence of mind, the youthful Joseph said to Mary, “Hold on. I’ll take a look inside first.” He peered past the innkeeper, shook his head firmly and then announced, “I’m not taking my wife into a place like that. Come on, Mary, we’ll sleep in the stable.
Kids do give us many gifts – the gift of insight, the gift of laughter, the gift of love, the gift of imagination, and sometimes, the gift of self-reflection, that perhaps was given to those who viewed that particular school play.
This Sunday and next we are going to look at several important gifts kids give us, not just this time of year, but every day through our lives and not just our own kids, or our relative’s children, but all kinds of kids including, most importantly, God’s kid, Jesus Christ . Gifts that are more important than presents that are good one day and then too small or all used up the next.
We will be spending time in the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel visiting with some people who were a part of the baby Jesus’ birth. I would encourage you to read through those two chapters this next week.
Luke opens his gospel account with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth; two people whose childless existence parallels that of Abraham and Sarah of the Old Testament. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth had roots in the priestly tradition of ancient Israel. They were, as indicated in verse 6 a couple that were deeply devoted to God and served Him deeply and passionately. But they had no children and as we see in verse 25, would have that disgrace and deep disappointment taken away with the birth of their son, John the Baptist.
With the news that Elizabeth would become pregnant, Zechariah, and Elizabeth as well, were given the gift of new priorities that were God’s priorities. (Overhead 2)
Kids change our priorities. (I’m not just talking to parents this morning. If we all were to stop and think about it, all of us can recall a time when a child has made us stop and at least reconsider, our priorities.) We may have a certain destination in mind on a particular day or a certain task to be accomplished but with the whisk of the hand or the flick of a switch either our children or another child changes all of that. Right?
Zechariah and Elizabeth had waited and waited for years to have children and just when it looked like they would never have any, Gabriel comes to Zechariah as he is serving the Lord in the temple and announces to him that he would indeed become a father. Life would forever change for this saintly couple. Instead of silence there would be the cry of a son, and not just any son, one who was sent by God to prepare the way for His son!
So the priority changes in their lives would revolve around the priorities that God had in place as we read in verses 14-17:
You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice with you at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or hard liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom.”