Summary: All I want for Christmas
Christmas Sunday Service
Theme: The Unspeakable Gift
Text: 2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
The practice of giving and receiving gifts for Christmas has been immortalized in well known songs of our times. Songs like Donald Gardener’s 1944 song All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth and Mariah Carey’s 2004 hit All I want for Christmas is you. I know people say it is not the gift but the thought that counts so who wants a snow shovel and a bucket of ice melt this Christmas? Or is there anyone here who would be happy to find a gallon of milk in their stockings? Or even a gallon of gasoline? Does anybody here expect to get a roll of toilet paper or hand towels under the tree? What about a bottle of ketchup or a pair of used socks or a used toothbrush? But what do you really want for Christmas? Do you know? If you do tell the person next to you what you want for Christmas. Does anyone say that they wanted a high definition TV or these $85 running shoes, or Brian the Brain, or this smart cycle or this ipod something, or this High School Musical 2 movie or this stunning piece of jewellery or did anyone say money? But what do you really need for Christmas?
Our text today comes out of the writings of the apostle Paul. Paul the great servant of God, called the Moses of the New Testament, traveled to the Greek city of Corinth on his second missionary journey sometime in the year AD 50. Paul did not intend to go to Corinth, in fact he was probably on his way back to Antioch but he had a vision one night in which a man from Macedonia asked him to come over and help them. Paul then sailed to Macedonia and began ministering in those Grecian cities. He and Silas preached in Philippi and were arrested and thrown in jail. Somebody would have said “was that dream really from God or was it a nightmare.” Then in Acts 16 we read the story of how God miraculously delivered them from the prison and how the jailer was saved.
Eventually after preaching in several places he ended up in Corinth. Corinth a city of about 400,000 people was at the crossroads of Asia and Europe in Paul’s time. As a result it developed a blend of cultures and customs, religions and rituals, traditions and philosophies. It was also a world renowned center of commerce like New York City anything you wanted you could buy it in Corinth. In addition it was a hotbed for every vice and sinful practice under the sun. One of its many temples was dedicated to the worship of the Greek goddess Aphrodite and there were at least 1000 temple prostitutes offering their sensual service to a depraved clientele.
The city of Corinth itself had undergone major renovation and expansion by the time Paul arrived there. In the year BC 146 Corinth was conquered and destroyed by the Roman consul, Mummius. When Mummius and his Roman Legions burnt Corinth the gold, silver and bronze from the columns of the temples melted and formed a metallic compound that became known as the famous Corinthian Brass. This metal was considered more valuable than gold itself. This metal was abundantly available in Corinth.
At first Paul was skeptical about ministry to the city as when he went to the Jewish synagogue they rejected his message. He shook the dust off his clothes and decided to preach to the Gentiles. There were people from all over the world living in Corinth and Paul shared with them the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. God spoke to Paul in a vision telling him that “He had many people in that city.” Therefore Paul ended up staying there for eighteen months and Corinth was his base for operations across the Greek cities of that region .
While at Corinth Paul saw wealth and opulence on display. He saw the elegant marble temples with their columns of gold, silver and bronze. He saw the commercial and trading centers where brilliant and shrewd business tycoons came to ply their wares as they engaged in the high stakes gambling and risk-taking that promised the coveted gift of profit-making. He saw the great stadiums where the talented athletes demonstrated their gifts and abilities. He saw the massive amphitheaters where gladiatorial arts and skills were taught and learned by the most gifted and courageous combatants of the day. He saw the world famous schools where the gifted young were being educated to become world class intellectuals. He saw the gymnasiums where gifted athletes practiced and prepared for competition .
He visited the marketplaces where people shopped till they dropped to purchase the perfect gift from the wide range of products that flowed in and out of Corinth everyday. These gifts would end up in the homes of the rich and in the cottages of the poor. Not only was there material gifts in abundance in Corinth but the gift of political liberty existed there. While other cities lived under the iron rod of aristocracy the Corinthians exercised the gift of democracy.