Summary: Gifts, even good gifts such as family and Christmas traditions, are only a shadow of the Giver.

Christmas � It�s Not About the Gifts

TCF Sermon

December 13, 2009

When we think of Christmas, it brings to mind many different things perhaps different things for each of us.

Of course, the good, Christian answer to the question, what do you think of when you think of Christmas, is that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. And of course, I�m sure that�s in the thinking of all of us here this morning. After all, we�re in church!

But when you really think of Christmas, there are bound to be many more things that come to mind. For me, the real �reason for the season� meaning, has always been an important part of my thinking about Christmas. I remember as a boy going to midnight mass with my family on Christmas Eve, hearing my dad sing Mary�s Boy Child, then walking out of that event into a quiet night with the snow falling and the crunch of the snow beneath my feet.

And then getting home, and one particular Christmas, after midnight mass, turning on the radio and hearing the voice of an astronaut orbiting the moon, and reading from Scripture as he looked back at the big blue marble of earth.

So, yes, the real �reason for the season� has been a significant part of my Christmas experiences through the years.

But, to be honest, there are many other things that can tend to crowd that out. Mixed together with the spiritual thoughts of the midnight mass, of the manger scene with the baby Jesus, are also the wonderful memories of a still and snowy night, Christmas lights, and many other things that go with the season.

Why is Christmas enjoyable or meaningful to us? What�s special about this particular season for us? I can�t answer for you, but for me it�s things like:

- Christmas songs

- decorations and lights

- family and traditions

- memories of Christmases past

I have to admit that, while I really enjoy the carols we sing here, and many of the Christmas songs with a clear Christian theme, I also really enjoy many of the secular Christmas tunes. So many of my Christmas memories are wrapped up in these sounds, and music is such a powerful memory maker, and so closely entwined with our emotions, that it�s hard to escape.

One of my favorites is The Christmas Song - perhaps better known by the first line: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.

When I told Jim Grinnell that this was one of my favorite Christmas songs, he told me about the big chess tournament at the Downtown Doubletree last year.

After the first day�s competition, many of the winners were sitting around in the foyer of the hotel talking about their matches and bragging about how good they were. After a few drinks they started getting louder and louder until finally, the clerk at the front desk couldn�t take any more and kicked them out.

The next morning the Manager called the clerk into his office and told him there had been several complaints about his being so rude to the hotel guests....instead of kicking them out, he should have just asked them to be less noisy. The clerk responded, "I�m sorry, but if there�s one thing I can�t stand, it�s chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

When I was in college, a friend and I re-wrote the lyrics to the Christmas Song, and included the names of many of the guys on my dorm wing, and called it the Shekinah Christmas Song. Shekinah was the name of my dorm wing. In a moment of inspiration (some of you may think it was more like a moment of perspiration), I�ve again re-written the lyrics and call this the TCF Christmas Song.

The TCF Christmas Song

Jim�s buns roasting on an open fire,

Bud Greene nipping at his toes,

Yuletide carols being sung by Jim Garrett

And Gordon dressed up like eskimoes

Everybody knows Al Baker and James Manchester

Love their I phones and PCs

Dave and Karl with their eyes all aglow

Will find it hard to sleep tonight

They know that Joel is on his way

He�s bringing Linda, Jane and Doris on his sleigh

And Jody and Mike Brose will surely spy

To see if Jania really knows how to fly.

And so, I�m offering this simple phrase

To kids from Hannah to Steve Staub

Though Bruce has said many times many ways,

Jason Feathers can�t sing

They know that Joel is on his way

He�s bringing Brian, Tom and Sarah on his sleigh

And Daniel and Hal Reed will surely spy

To see if Hallett really knows how to fly

And so I�m offering this simple phrase

To kids from Shirley to Chris Staub

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