Summary: I prepared this sermon to deliver on Christmas Eve as a concise message of the gift we have in Christ.
The Gift of Christ, Luke 1:35 (Christmas Eve Message)
“Mommy, what is Christmas?” asked the three-year-old girl. Her mother carefully explained that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. “Then why do we not give gifts to Jesus if it’s His birthday?” The mother explained the tradition of exchanging Christmas gifts as expressions of our love for each other, and that seemed to end the matter.
It did not come up again until Christmas Eve when a sleepy little girl placed a package under the Christmas tree on her way to bed and explained that it was a birthday gift for Jesus which she was sure He would open during the night while she slept.
After she was asleep, the mother not wanting her daughter to be disappointed, opened the clumsily wrapped package and found the box empty.
On Christmas morning the little girl was thrilled to find the package had been opened and her gift was gone. “What was in it?” asked the confused mother. “It was a box full of love,” came the answer. How childlike! How Christlike!
We live in a culture which has largely abandoned the real value of the coming of Christ. For so many the “Christ-Mass” has been replaced with all manner of selfishness and well intentioned greed.
Rather than worshipping the King of the universe they worship the God of commerce. Jesus came to this world veiled in human flesh. He came as a baby in a manger grew to be a man, and ultimately He became the embodiment of the grace and mercy of God.
As we celebrate Christmas let us consider not only the fact of His coming but much more, let us consider the meaning of His coming. And not only the meaning of His having come to earth, but the meaning of His having come to dwell within each one of us as we yield ourselves to His love.
In the gospel of Luke 1:35 it is written, “The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.’” (NASB)
We have been given the gift of this holy Child of which the angel spoke to Mary. We have been given a gift much greater than anything which can wrapped in ribbons, stuffed in boxes, or loaded into stockings.
We have been given the gift of God’s unmerited unearned grace. Today you are a child of God not because of anything that you have done or failed to do.
Your position in Christ is based on God’s grace alone and it is only through faith in Him alone that we are able to experience that grace in our lives.
The question I pose to you this evening is this, “What will you do with that gift?” Will you cast it aside, assuming it to be of little value – as though it were only an empty opened unwrapped box – or will treasure its true value and meaning?
Will you allow the gift of love that you have been given in Christ to transform you? Will you allow that love to saturate everything which you do? Will you see the baby Jesus for who He is or will you dismiss Him as a simple baby?
Galatians 6:14 says, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (NASB)
True celebration of the coming of Christ ought not to happen only at Christmas time. Jesus birth, earthly life, death, and resurrection are only the very beginning of the story of redemption and new life.
The most pure and true celebration of the coming of Christ is a life lived yielded to His very purpose in our lives and through our lives.
Mother Teresa once said, “It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you . . . yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.”
During the Christmas season we hear so much about spreading holiday cheer. We hear so much about peace on earth and good will toward men, spending time with family, and thinking happy thoughts.
While all of those things are good, there is something even better available to us in the greatest gift of all – the gift of experiencing the mercy of God in Christ.
It was the first day back to school after Christmas vacation, and the teacher used a good bit of the morning by going around the room and asking each child to tell how they spent Christmas. The first boy said, “Well, we are Catholics and we went to midnight mass and came home and went right to bed.