Summary: 3rd in Advent Series about Christmas Gifts

A little boy was coming into the world who was going to teach something to everyone about religion and what religion really is. You see, up until this little boy was born, religion was following hundreds of rigid laws, following a set guideline for living. But after He was born, religion was elevated to one word--love. He came to tell humanity about love. The message this week is the same as it was 2,000 years ago--to tell you about how you can love even as he loved and loves.

The birth of Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the most beautiful story ever presented to men and women. Words fail to describe what we feel as visions of the various events surrounding His birth combo for our eyes.

We see the shepherds tending their peaceful flock; the wise men journeying to Bethlehem and as they arrived there, offering their gifts of love. We see the Mother, Mary, sitting beside her Babe who lies peacefully in the manger.

These characters in the Christmas story were filled with a great love. And as we think of this occasion, we begin to experience our hearts swelling with a great love, a great peace and inward hope.

As we think of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, so a birth, or rebirth, takes place within our minds and hearts; a rebirth of God’s love within us.

Christmas must take place, not only on the calendar, but in your hearts as well. If you experience Christmas, you become to your world a professional radiator of love, that everybody who comes into your presence feels your love, and that by being one with the source of love you touch everyone with your love. This is the message of Jesus Christ--not was but is.

The message is only a real message when it comes ALIVE in you. Advent is not just a ceremony of lighting candles. It is to light something inside of you, to illumine your heart and soul and allow the light to be expressed in a profound way.

Life is a song. Have you ever thought about that? If life is a song, what are you singing? What’s your song like? Is it a happy song? Is it a song where you have a smile on your face? Love is the music. It makes your life come alive and makes it dynamic.

This is what we’re all seeking as human beings. It’s what I’m seeking. I’m seeking to have more love in my life and so are you. I’m seeking to have the kind of love that we know at the core of our being that we can have--a steadfast, enduring love that is based on faithfulness.

I want to read Isaiah 54:10 NRSV: "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you."

In Jeremiah 31:3 NRSV God speaking says, "...I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."

God’s promise to every one of you today is that in spite of the changing conditions in your life, the steadfast, unwavering love of God is available to you at all times and at this Christmas time. Even during times when we’re going through great challenges, when we’re going through great changes, God’s steadfast love is there, and it’s there for you. God has a compassion for you--not a feeling sorry for you, but empathy. God knows what you’re experiencing and it is a love you can sense at any time.

God has promised an everlasting love to you. That’s the good news of Christmas.

A man was looking for a Christmas gift for his wife. He had looked for a long time, and he thought, "My wife would like a bird that she could look at in the cage, a bird that would keep her company and sing to her, a bird that would talk to her. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when my wife came into the room the bird would say ’Good morning. How are you? Polly wants a cracker.’" The man thought, "Yes, this is the gift I need to get for my wife."

So, the man went shopping. He went into a pet shop, asked for the store manager and said, "Sir, I would like a bird that sings and talks." Well, the man bought the bird.

The next day the man returned the bird and said, "I’ve looked at this bird for twenty-four hours. The bird just sits there and looks at me. He doesn’t sing and he doesn’t talk."

"That’s strange," said the manager. "Does he peck on his little bell?" "What bell?" shouted the frustrated man; "He doesn’t have a bell." "Oh no," said the store manager. "Did I forget to sell you the bell? You have to have a bell for your bird, mister. You get up to the sound of a bell each morning, don’t you? Well, so will the bird. He will peck on his little bell, and when he hears its sound he will start his day too." "How much is the bell?" asked the man. "Eight ninety-five, sir," replied the manager. "Give me the bell."

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