Summary: Based on the classic Christmas Eve Luke 2 text, I tried to speak to a largely seeking congregation regarding Christ's unconditional love.
Barbara Bush tells a Christmas Story about a little boy who really, really wanted a Red Sled for Christmas.
He sat down and wrote a letter to Santa pleading his case. He wrote:
I really, really want a red sled for Christmas. If you will bring me a red sled, I will be a perfect little boy. I will be obedient. Whatever my parents ask me to do, I will do it immediately… Santa, I really do need a red sled.”
He signed the letter and mailed it,… but he thought he needed a trump card… an insurance plan… a back-up strategy. So, he went to the Manger Scene that his family had on display in their den. Secretly, when no one was looking, he reached over and picked up the figurine of Mary, took it upstairs to his room and hid Mary in his closet.
He then went over to his bed, dropped down on his knees and said: “Lord, I hate to get tough… but if you ever want to see your mother again… make sure Santa brings me a red sled for Christmas!”
Even though the little boy was confused about the real meaning of Christmas and even though he was far removed from the real spirit of Christmas, … one thing is sure… he knew what he wanted for Christmas.
Do you know what you want for Christmas? You may have already received it, or you're hoping tomorrow you'll open up that special present- a new bathrobe, jewelry, a new cell phone, boots, a new game system. It could be 12 Drummers Drumming... but after a 1/2 hour of drumming, that I think you'd get a headache. Whatever, even if a personal lear jet or even if it's a red sled, I still think you're still aiming too low.
What do I mean? While its always great to get new bling, I think we settle for less. We could still set our sights higher. It's just that getting to Christmas eve can be so stressful people begin lowering their expectations. I hear people saying, "Well, if I can just make it to Christmas." Christmas hope becomes Christmas cope. And there are so many things that can cause us to lower our sights. Could be the checking account is down to nil and the credit card account it up to the max. Maybe there's still a lot of cooking to be done for tomorrow's feast. Maybe you're a bit harried just driving to Troy. I remember reading once that Christmas prep. is like having another part-time job in December. So, Holiday hope becomes Christmas cope.
But, I am here tonight to ask each one of you to not settle for less. And deep down you know that and that's why you are here. You could have cashed in the chips and said, "That's it. I've done enough. I'm too tired. I'm skipping church." You haven't. You've picked yourself up and said, "I am going to church and celebrate the birth of Christ." Good for you. Now, aim a bit higher to receive the best Christmas gift of all. To help you unwrap that gift, I want to draw your attention to just one small piece of scripture. Here it is, my translation: After the shepherds have left, after the angels went back to heavensville, Mary held the baby Jesus and "pondered all these things in her heart."
What did she pondered? Many things. Let me pick out one. I've had the wonderful fortune of being with Tish at the birth of each of our four kids. There is a precious, holy moment when the doctors and nurses leave and that new little family is alone in the birthing room. It is just daddy, mommy, and the baby. Mommy holds that little child wrapped up tightly in a blanket. You look at that little, beautiful face: The perfectly formed mouth, the wonderfully crafted nose. You weeps with joy as she ponders the wonder of creation and thanks God. Dad tears up, or cries if he is man enough. But, you know what you feel? Here is your new born. You've just met him or her.. And you feel such love. One hour old--- and your realize you will go to bat for this child! If you are a mother bear you'll fight a wolf. A daddy lion, you'll protect your young. I will protect this baby because I love this Baby. On the first Christmas night, after everyone was gone, and it was just Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, I think Mary gazed at Jesus, and adored Him, holding him protectively. In her heart she knew that God loved this child. Jesus was God's son and God's gift to the world.
There wouldn't be Christmas without Him. For that reason we like to say, "Jesus is the reason for the season." But, set your sights higher and realize this other truth. Let it sink in tonight. "YOU are the reason for the season." (repeat) This baby is God's gift to you. To let you know that HE loves you. Warts and all.