Summary: You are sitting here at midnight, your presents bought and wrapped, but how will the people you give them to react? And what of a gift given to you?
By now either you are really panicking or you have bought your presents. There will be one, maybe two here who will be staying up until the small hours… but by now the rest of you have already wrapped them. [take big present out] And now there is nothing to do but wait.
This is the most difficult part. You’ve done everything you can to make Christmas special for your loved ones but until they take the wrapping paper off, you won’t know whether they love it or loathe it.
You can buy the best Christmas present in the world, but you can’t make someone enjoy it, you can’t even make them unwrap it.
The things about presents is that when there’s so much wrapping paper lying around – presents can actually get lost in the wrapping paper. [have piles of torn up wrapping paper]
True story – a necklace tiny, beautiful, valuable can easily get lost amidst the detritus of other bigger less important presents.
CS Lewis in the story The Last Battle has a great line “Once in our world a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world”
That tiny thing that was bigger than the whole world
“The Word was with God and the Word was God and he was in the beginning with God. All things came into being with him and without him not one thing came into being”
That thing “bigger than our whole world” – The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Like a Tardis the Word that was with God and was God turned up in a tiny baby in a manger in a stable.
I’d like to read you an extract of a poem written by Jonathan Bryan. I don’t know Jonathan but I knew his parents at theological college. Jonathan is 13. He is wheel chair bound and can only communicate through a letter board. This is part of the poem Jonathan wrote –
“Cry of life – born for me
carved on Mary’s face;
faintly inklings of forboding
echoing loving grace.
Vulnerable humility –
Divine dependent boy
Thousand years of prophetic light
Lavished blessing – our joy”
“Vulnerable humility – Divine dependent boy”. “Once in our world a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world”. The Word – The Word that was with God and was God – became flesh and dwelt among us. Something small, precious, valuable and tiny that can be lost in the wrappings of Christmas. [pick up and drop wrapping papers at this point]
There’s a scene at the end of the new star wars film Rogue 1. For those of you who don’t know it, Rogue 1 is a prequel to the original Star Wars that describes how the rebels stole the plans to the Death Star. At the very end the plans are on a tiny computer disc as the rebels pass the one to another, desperately trying to keep them out of the hands of the imperials.
Finally the fragile disc is passed safely to Princess Leia. One of the soldiers asks “What have they given us.” Holding this fragile tiny thing Leia says “They’ve given us HOPE”.
“They’ve given us HOPE”.
Which brings us back to those presents that you have bought and probably wrapped. You can buy the best Christmas present in the world, but you can’t make someone enjoy it. How will they react when they open it tomorrow?
“The true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world and the world came into being through him yet the world knew him not. He came to what was his own and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed on his name, he gave power to become children of God, born not of blood nor of the will of flesh nor of the will of man but of God.”
As you sit there – anxious? Hopeful? About how your presents will go down tomorrow when they are opened, how do you think God feels about how you will react to the present God gives you at Christmas?
That gift to you -described in this poem by Fr Tim Sumpter
When the time had fully come
God turned up, with skin on,
Tumbling head first into all the mess
Of this world, come to caress
The human heart in a capella.
Such startling accommodation for royalty
Crafting art from dirt amidst wild angelic intoxication.
The gift of a wrinkled baby,
Incontinent with love,
Smoothing the way through darkness
Soothing light of divine largesse
Present for all.
Follow his screams to revive your dreams,
Past all those who never make room for him