Summary: The purpose of this message is to help put Christmas back into proper perspective at the beginning of the season.
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son…” (Luke 2.1-7a)
The Word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
In 2 ½ weeks we’ll be celebrating the birthday of Jesus our Savior. As I thought about Jesus’ birthday I found myself reminiscing about some of the childhood birthdays I experienced growing up. Birthdays like my kid brother’s. I enjoyed Jeff’s birthday parties, at least up until it was time for him to open his presents. I couldn’t stand that. It wasn’t fair for him to get all those neat toys and gifts while I sat there and got nothing. And I made my case known to mom and dad. No matter what my folks said, and no matter how right they were, I didn’t feel any better about it. And so I devised a plan that if successful would make me feel better on my brother’s birthday the next year and every year thereafter. It was quite ingenious.
When it was close to Jeff’s birthday mom would give me a few bucks and a list of gifts to choose from that she thought Jeff would like. She would then take me to the Woolworth’s department store to shop for him by myself. I knew right where to go. I walked through the metal turn style and took a right. I walked across the front of the store to the last aisle and there before me stood a row of shelves filled with plastic models, hotrods, battleships and World War II aircraft. I was going to buy a model for my brother to build. Not because Jeff enjoyed model building, but because I did. As far as he was concerned it was a waste of time, money and effort. I on the other hand, found great satisfaction in building models. I’d have a model built a couple hours after opening the box.
My plan was to buy Jeff a model that I knew he wouldn’t like and then offer my services to build it for him. My hope was that he would not really like it and then simply offer it to me. And you know what? It worked! My plan worked so well that I repeated it a couple of more years. But after about the third year or so Jeff caught on. One year he reluctantly opened the gift that I lovingly sought out for him, and when he saw that it was another model said something like, “Geez Bryan, who’s birthday is it anyway?” And pushed it aside.
I didn’t feel so good about what I had done that year. So, I went upstairs to my room and did something to take my mind off of it. I built my brothers model.
Have you ever done anything like that before? Let me ask this way, “Whose birthday do we celebrate on December 25?” Jesus’. Who walks away with all the gifts?
I want to encourage everyone to be more intentional about making sure that Jesus receives a gift on his birthday instead of everyone else but. But, where do you begin? What do you get the guy who literally has everything? How do you determine what Jesus would want? Let me make a simple suggestion. Ask him what he would like for Christmas just like you would anyone else. I did that and you know what? Jesus gave me a Christmas wish list with two items on it, Luke 10.38 and Matthew 25.40.
Luke 10.38 reads, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he
came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (NIV)