Summary: Gift giving at Christmas started with God the Father’s gift to us of His Son.
--*ILL>A ten year old girl named Jenny went with her family and friends to see the Christmas light displays around the city. At one church they stopped and got out to look more closely at a beautiful nativity scene. Her grandma said to her, “Isn’t that beautiful! Look, Jenny, at all the animals, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus!” Jenny responded, saying, “Yes, grandma, it’s really nice, but there is one thing that bothers me: isn’t baby Jesus ever going to grow up? He’s the same size He was last year!”
<>Well, of course, Jesus did grow up, and His life and death and resurrection are the reasons we worship and the reason we can celebrate Christmas.
--Today we’re beginning the sermon series, “Pursuing Christmas.”
<>There are so many misunderstandings about Christmas...beginning with its meaning.
---If you ask people to tell you what Christmas means to them, you’re likely to hear things like “it’s a time for the family to get together,” or “a time to give presents,” or other things, such as singing Christmas carols, shopping, etc.
<>But actually Christmas is about worship!
---When our Roman Catholic friends say they’re going to a worship service, they call it going to Mass.
---Christmas MEANS the Mass of Christ, the worship of Christ.
---Of course, that’s a lot different from how many people celebrate it.
<>In the weeks to come we’re going to clear up some of the misunderstandings, separating legend from reality.
---We’re going to look at Christmas through the eyes of shepherds, Wise Men, an innkeeper, and Mary.
<>But in this first message, we’re going to examine why we give gifts at Christmas.
---Some believe giving gifts at Christmas started with the Wise Men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus.
---Others cite the legend of St. Nicholas, who liked bringing toys to boys and girls.
---But actually, giving a gift at Christmas started with GOD...when He gave His only Son.
<>Today I want us to examine THE GIFT THAT STARTED IT ALL.
--I invite you to open your Bible again, and this time turn to Philippians, chapter two.
---ILL>I’m reminded of Christmas morning at Joey’s grandpa’s house. Joey was so excited as he looked at the huge present that was wrapped with a big bow standing in the corner of the room, too big to fit under the tree. He saw his name on the tag, and could hardly wait for his grandpa to tell him it was his turn to open the present. You see, in Joey’s mind it had to be the best present of all because it was the biggest of all.
---What do you think it was? (Give congregation a time to guess)
-----Actually, I don’t know what it was! (I didn’t read the punch line of the story!)
<>What do YOU say makes a gift a really good gift?
--How big it is?
--How pretty it’s wrapped?
--How long it took the giver to purchase it?
--How much it cost?
>TODAY...I want us to examine...
WHAT MAKES THE GIFT THAT STARTED IT ALL SO VALUABLE...
<>THE GIFT IS VALUABLE BECAUSE OF...
1) WHO GAVE THE GIFT.
--John 3:16 -- “For GOD...gave...”
--<>Many times the value of a gift is wrapped up in who it was who gave it to you.
----ILL>This week I saw an ad in the Arizona Republic newspaper. It was an ad placed on behalf of someone’s grandmother, which said: “Lost: one pearl ring. Lost near 35th Avenue and Cactus. Setting is chipped from many years’ wear, has one diamond on each side of pearl. Great sentimental value. Large reward promised.”
------Yeh, it was a pearl ring, but notice the real urgency of seeking the lost ring was the sentimental value.
------No doubt the sentiment was wrapped around who gave grandma that ring.
----ILL>I’m holding in my hand this wristwatch. As you can see, it’s not an expensive watch. I could go to K-Mart and get one just like it for probably less than $20. But I treasure this wristwatch because my grandmother gave it to me after the death of my grandfather. It was his. Now it’s mine. Its street value?--Nothing. But to me it’s priceless because of WHOSE it was.
----ILL>Years ago in a Coca Cola commercial on t.v., Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Mean Joe Green is shown heading into the players’ tunnel to his dressing room after a hard game. A young fan gets his attention, then gives him a Coke. He takes the Coke and turns away to walk on down the tunnel, then stops. “Hey, kid!,” he yells. Then he takes off his sweaty, dirty jersey and throws it to the fan. The boy catches it, then shouts out, “Thanks, Mean Joe!”
------What made a stinky, sweaty, dirty jersey so valuable to this fan? It was because of who gave it to him. It wasn’t just any jersey, it was Mean Joe Green’s jersey! It was valuable because of WHO gave it.