Summary: The 3rd part of our Advent Conspiracy series, focusing on the greatest gift you can give someone - your presence.
Part 3: Give Presence
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
Icebreaker: Three six year old boys were playing the wise men in their church Christmas program. As they came up to Mary and Joseph at the stable, the first one handed over his present and said, “Gold.” The second presented his gift and said, “Myrrh.” The third one then gave them his treasure and said, “And Frank sent this.”
-Another little boy paid a visit to Santa in the department store and presented him with a list of requests: a bicycle, a train, a bat and ball, a rocket set, and an airplane. Santa was impressed. He said, “Thanks for the list. I’ll check between now and Christmas to see whether or not you’ve been a good boy.” The little boy reached over to take the list back and said, “Never mind, I’ll settle for the bicycle.”
Intro: Now let’s face it ! Most of us like to get presents ! I would also say that most of us like to give presents ! We parents want to please our children, and so we buy and we buy.....and then we charge, and we charge.........
-Yet....what do you think pleased the Lord the most ? Was it the presents of gold, myrrh, and frankincense that the Magi brought or was it their presence with the Christ child that counted the most ?
-Now kids “relax”. I’m not trying to convince your parents that you don’t need anything this year, but I do want us to realize that presence is more important than our presents.
-Ask the 150,000 men and women serving in Iraq what they would like to have for Christmas.....and they no doubt would say......I’d like to be home. I’d like to be with my family ! Ask their wives, husbands, children, and parents the same, and I believe you’d receive the same answer ! Oh....I’d give anything if they were home !
-Ask the thousands, and thousands of children in orphanages, and foster home what they would like to have, and I believe most would like to have a family !
Illustration: (Show Youtube video "A Soldier Comes Home."
-We can give our children, our family and our friends lots of different kinds of presents for Christmas, but nothing will compare with our presence !
-So this morning, I want to challenge to you, as part of having a Simple Christmas this year, to give presence…your presence. Let me show a short video clip that really shows how presence is that most important give you can give. (Show video “A Soldier Comes Home.”)
-We find out how to do this in the Christmas story. Imagine that.
3 Gifts of Presence Given on the 1st Christmas
1. God made his presence known to ordinary people, right where they were. (Vs. 8-14)
Statement: Last week we talked about the Magi and everyone knows that the Magi brought gifts to Jesus that first Christmas. But you know who gave the first gift? You know who gave the best gift? God did. It was more valuable than gold. It was more precious than the oil and perfume the wise men brought. And who God chose to give that gift to tells us so much about how He operates.
-You see, the first gift that was given that Christmas was God’s gift of presence. God made his presence known to ordinary people, right where they were. You probably remember the familiar words of Luke 2. But consider them this morning through the eyes of the shepherds:
Scripture: Luke 2:8-14
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
-Whoa! Can you imagine what it must have been like to have been among those shepherds that night? Can’t you just imagine how the sky must have lit up when the hosts of angels joined together to give the shepherds a private concert? Can you imagine how the Heavenly symphony must have risen into the night and filled the shepherds with wonder and terror at the same time?