Summary: This is week two of a four part series and looks at the preparations that had to happen in order for the first Christmas to happen.
The Gift of Christmas 2
The quest for the perfect gift. Some of you know what I mean and others, you haven’t got a clue. There are some folks who every gift is a challenge, to get not just a gift but to get the right gift. The gift that says just the right thing at just the right price. Those folks are buying gifts all year round and you will hear them say “that would be the perfect gift for Aunt Mabel, that would be my mother’s sister’s husband’s great aunt.” They put a lot of thought and love into their gifts, for the rest of us there are always gift cards.
And others are looking for the right gift but for the wrong reason. Do you remember where we left with Big Bang two weeks ago, Penny was going to buy Sheldon and Leonard gifts and Sheldon lectures her on the fact that the foundation of Gift Giving was reciprocity and that she wasn’t giving him a gift she was giving him an obligation. Let’s pick up the story with that thought. (clip two from Big Bang Christmas Special).
What a clever idea. Hmmmm, I wonder? Nope better not go there and it’s probably too late for this year anyway.
Christmas is a celebration of the greatest gift ever given. The gift of God! And it wasn’t a gift that was given without thought and planning. As a matter of fact John tells us at the beginning of his Gospel John 1:1-2 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.
Here is a gift that has existed before time itself existed. And it was prepared and delivered in a perfect manner, at the perfect time. You ever wonder about the timing of Christmas? Not whether it happened in December or September in AD 5 or 3 BC but why it happened at that particular point in history. We have approximately 5,000 years of recorded history, so why right then. Was it just a good time? Or was it the best time?
Listen to what Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4-5 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.
Did you catch that? But when the right time came. Not just any time the right time. I am a big believer in context, the power that is of the right thing happening at the right time. If you are a reader check out Malcolm Gladwell’s two books “The Tipping Point” and “The Outliers.”
That was free.
God could have chosen any time in the scope of history for his Son to come to earth and for the church to be born, and yet he chose a specific spot on the time line of history. Why? Why at that particular point in time?
According to historians there was no better time for the church to flourish than the two hundred year juncture of history known as The Pax Romana. E. J. Goodspeed notes: "This was the pax Romana. The provincial under Roman sway found himself in a position to conduct his business, provide for his family, send his letters, and make his journeys in security, thanks to the strong hand of Rome."
The Roman Peace had spread across the known world, providing one of the few windows of opportunities for the land and sea to be travelled safely without the threat of warring factions. For the first time roadways connected points across the known world. But it went beyond simple transportation and incorporated communication as well. Instead of having to learn a multitude of languages and dialects it was only necessary to know one. Greek was the common language, a reminder of Alexander’s conquests, allowing the written word to be sent to encourage and correct the growing churches in diverse cultures.
It was not a coincidence that the Creator chose this point in time to interrupt history William Barclay writes in the Daily Study Bible: “It was no accident that Christianity came when it did. It came in God's own time; all history had been a preparation for it; and the circumstances were such that the way was open for the tide to spread.”
But there were certain things that had to be prepared and made ready.
The Preparation of the Gift We touched on this a couple of weeks ago. God didn’t choose just anyone to parent his son, he chose Mary and Joseph. We are reminded over and over again of the baggage that people carry with them from their childhood as a result of parents who were abusive, either physically or verbally, parents who were neglectful or just didn’t care.