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What Can We Give Jesus for Christmas?

Dr. Bruce Lancaster

December 24, 2015
Matthew 1:18-20; 2:1-6

A reading from the Gospel of Matthew:

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…

…In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Bruce Lancaster 2014When I leave these services tonight, I will do as I have done on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember – I will look long and hard up into the night sky trying to find Santa and his sleigh!

I haven’t seen him yet in nearly 65 years of looking, but maybe, maybe tonight!

Tonight’s the night that the song says Santa makes his final list, checks it twice, because he’s coming to town!

What about your Christmas list? We all have them, I guess – lists that are motivated by two questions: what do I want for Christmas? And, what do I give Bill or Jane or Mom or Dad or brother or sister for Christmas?

Now I know it’s kind of late, but I want you to add one more name to your Christmas list – Jesus!

Yes, Jesus – what would be on Jesus’ Christmas list? What can we give Jesus for Christmas?

Have you ever thought about that?

We talk about Jesus being the reason for the season – how Jesus is God’s gift to you and me at Christmas.

We know the gifts of the Magi – gold and frankincense and myrrh…but what about you and me – what can we give Jesus for Christmas?

It’s a little late, I know, to go shopping – even to order online or through a catalog, it wouldn’t get here in time.

But there is one thing I think we can give Jesus, and get it to him on time – We can give Jesus Christmas!

Yes, we can give Christmas to Jesus.

Maybe you’ve heard the story of the man, a fairly wealthy businessman coming out of the grocery store one Christmas Eve. A friend sees him and asks, “Are you just now getting your Christmas turkey?” “No,” the man replied, “Hot dogs!”

He then explained that years ago, his business had failed right before Christmas – no job, no extra money for gifts, very little money for groceries. That year he and his wife and their young daughter sat down for Christmas dinner and said the blessing over a meal of hot dogs, “a whole kennel of them,” he laughed.

“Now it’s a tradition,” the man said, “Hot dogs on Christmas Eve to remind us of that happy day when we realized we still had each other and our ability to laugh and celebrate.”

That’s how we can give Christmas to Jesus – to realize just what it is that makes this day so special – to remember what this day is all about.

It’s certainly not the things on any list we make – but the names of those whom we can love and have loved and who love us all the time.

Of course, we are glad that Christmas means parties and decorations and presents.

But the real gift of Christmas means generosity and forgiveness, compassion and renewal, blessings and peace.

And we can get this gift to Jesus by keeping our lives from being so crowded with things that there is no room for him…from pushing him aside and from being so busy that we lose him in the mess and madness of holiday bedlam.

Let us give Christmas to Jesus in the way that a deep and abiding joy marks our very soul…because the Christ child is so real to us, not only in the day just ahead, but in the days that follow the celebration of his birth.

So that when all the gifts have been opened, and the trees taken down, and the decorations put away, we will know that we gave Christmas to Jesus – we gave him what really matters.

Why don’t we let these candles signal our gift – as someone described the candles of Christmas Eve:

candles of joy, a light in your sadness…

candles of hope, in the midst of our shadows…

candles of courage, light for your fears…

candles of peace, as terror looms over us…

candles of grace, to ease heavy burdens…

candles of love, to inspire our living…

candles that will burn all year long.

That’s it, isn’t it? Candles that will burn all year long.

We give Christmas to Jesus by having him at the top of our list every day, all year long.