o Who has been good this Christmas?
o Do you think you deserve a present for being good? What kind of present?
o If you were real good between now and tomorrow, do you think your present might get bigger?
o Who has not been good this Christmas?
o Do you think you deserve a present because you haven’t been good?
o If you misbehaved between now and tomorrow, do you think your present might get smaller or even taken away?
In this box, there is a present. What is it? Is it a Nintendo? Is it a Billabong gift voucher? Is it the keys to the family car? Is it some undies?
What will we need to be to get it? What if we aren’t? Will Santa stay home or go somewhere else?
What if Santa does not come to your house? What about Christmas? Can it still be Christmas without Santa?
Well, let’s take a look at this present. It’s a baby in a cot. It’s God become a human. This is His present to us.
The wonderful thing is that no matter whether we are good or not, Christmas still happens and this present is still ours.
And the even more wonderful thing is that there is nothing we can do to change it in any way. We can’t add to it. The present does not grow bigger if we are better. It doesn’t vanish if, for some reason our behaviour becomes worse. Christmas still happens.
What a fantastic present that is.
But there are two parts to all this. There is a receiving and there is a giving. What about the giving bit? What kind of fantastic present have we got for God tonight?
I bet you never thought of giving God a present for Christmas. But if you did, I wonder what it would look like? I don’t know what it might be for you, but I know this much. What we have to give will never be measured in terms of its size: no big piles of goodness, or gold or frankincense or myrrh.
What we have to give is more likely to be our broken dreams, unfulfilled expectations, broken hearts and disappointments.
What we have to give might be better measured in terms of the amount of hopelessness we feel in a world that does not seem to offer much hope. It is more than likely to be measured in terms of our fear about terrorism.
What we have to give might be our fear about a constantly diminishing water supply.
What we have to give might be our anxiety in raising a family in a society that seems to be rampant with AIDS and drugs.
What we have to give might be our fear that we have to share our streets and our shops with people who don’t look or smell like us.
The story of Christmas is that whatever our gifts, no matter how small or how broken or how full of fear they are, God will have them all.
Christmas is more about relationships than it is about economics. And it is not true that the more we have to give, the more God will like us.
There is nothing we can do that will make Him love us more. There is nothing we have done that can shut the door of heaven. Nothing. Because of His love for each of us, He sent Jesus as the first Christmas present and made it possible, from that point onward, for you and me to come to Him and bring our smallness with us, since that’s all we have. In fact, the less we have, the better.
The magic of Christmas is about a God who is no longer remote, disinterested or impotent. The magic of Christmas is not even about Santa and bright-eyed children. The magic of Christmas is about a God who loves us.
And that’s far more satisfying than anything else in the whole world.