Summary: Christmas sermon on the kind of gifts we receive.

“The Christ Candle”

December 23, 2007

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

" ’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’"

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

Matthew 2:1-12

Isn’t Christmas wonderful? I love the visuals at Christmas. Shepherds, angels, magi, gifts, music, lights, stars – it goes on and on. I think our Christmas program got it right. The stars are the children. They add a whole new perspective to Christmas that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

I heard about a young African boy who listened intently as the missionary teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas Day. She said “they are An expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for one another”.

When Christmas came, the boy brought the teacher a very beautiful sea shell. ’Where did you find such a shell?’ He told her how there was only one spot, several miles away where they could be found. ’You shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me!’ His eyes brightened as he said, ’Long walk was part of gift’.

That’s a new perspective on gift giving, isn’t it? But it’s true. Some of you spent way too much money on your loved ones. Some of you put yourself in debt to buy gifts for those you love – but I guess that’s just part of the gift, isn’t it.

God has given us the gift of love. He proclaims:

“God so loved the world that He gave….” John 3:16

You know what He gave. “God so loved the world that He gave is one and only son…” John 3:16

Jesus is the Father’s gift of love to you. The cost, which we will never fully know, but includes the cross – is a part of the gift. This Christmas my gift to you is to remind you that you are loved. God loves you so much that Jesus left the perfection and peace of heaven to come to earth as a baby in a manger, so He could die as the Lamb of God on the cross for your sins. That’s love. That’s the best gift you could ever receive.

Not all gifts are so good. I read of another child with a different kind of gift. It was told my Dianne Matthews in an article in Focus on the Family magazine. She says,

"I was enjoying 1st grade to the fullest until one day in December when the little girl behind me set "it" on her desk. It was the tiniest Christmas present imaginable, less than an inch on each side with white glossy paper tied up with a sliver of red cellophane. Immediately I was captivated. I had never seen anything so exquisite. Day after day the tiny gift caught my eye, and my active imagination tried to guess what miniature treasure might be inside. It had to be something wondrous beyond description.

I longed for that object with all the power a 5-year-old can muster. Finally, I became convinced that it should be mine. I deserved it because I desired it. Since I rode an early bus to school, it was a simple matter to slip into the empty classroom one morning. My hands eagerly tore open the tiny present. Inside I found - nothing.

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