S-1529 CD/3C 12/25/15; Hymns: (O) #387; #370; #361; #374 vv. 1-2; (S) #383 vv1-3; L.S. #619; #623; (C) #383 vv4-5
Texts: Psalm 2; Isaiah 62:10-12; Hebrews 10:11-14; Luke 2:8-20
Theme: “The Perfect Gift” (Hebrews 10:12-14; Luke 2:10-11)
Question: “Did you get the gift you wanted?” (18th Sermon at Trinity).
Faithful followers of the Savior, Merry Christmas to one and all, the text for this blessed celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ is from the Epistle and Gospel readings. “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified…And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Hebrews 10:11-14; Luke 2:11-13).
Most precious children of the heavenly Father, may I be bold to ask you a couple of questions: “Well, how did you do? Did you get the gifts that you wanted? Were you surprised at all by a gift that you received? Are you quietly looking for a gift receipt so that you can return that one certain gift that, well shall we say, “Missed the mark?”
No matter how you did in the gift getting department, there are some stark realities about the gifts you just opened. Think about the best gift you received this Christmas season. The truth is they will not be as pristine as they were the very moment they came out of the box. Those gift cards will be spent and be nothing but a cheap piece of plastic that might do in a pinch if your ice scraper goes missing this winter. That super toy that you feverishly unwrapped will, in time, be off in the corner of the room gathering dust like last year’s toys. The game system you want to spend every waking hour playing will become old hat and will spend untold hours of disuse near the television. That wonderful sweater that you may even be wearing this morning will fade with wear. What’s worse, there is the very real possibility that you may find that it even shrinks between now and next Christmas. The rest of the clothes may well go out of style before they are worn out. I don’t mean to rain on your Christmas gifts. I am just trying to be realistic. We need to be realistic, especially since we finally are through the UN-realistic pre-Christmas season.
In my 60 short years of life I can’t say that I actually remember a gift from the past that really stand out today and that I can’t live without. Certainly, I am thankful for the gift of my wife, children, daughter’s-in-law, grandchildren, family, friends; and of course the saints of Trinity. But none of these gifts are eternal this side of heaven.
Spouses pass away, family and friends move away, relationships breakup and even church members decline and some even leave the faith. Though they are special gifts from God they are not lasting ones. PAUSE.
A story is told of a young lady by the name of Jennie. Jennie’s death was a sad event in her family’s life. Yet, Jennie before she died, marked that her body would be used as a donor. After her tragic death, her body made a difference in the life of at least sixty (60) people. That is certainly good. However, think of the impact of the Son of God, the Ultimate and Perfect GIFT He makes a difference not only in the lives of 60 people, but for all the people of the world.
Here is how the Author to the Hebrews put it: “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:12-14). Through the GIFT of heaven, God has done what we couldn’t do—earn our salvation; remove our sins from us, live a righteous life before God and have eternal life
But through the Babe of Bethlehem we receive the Perfect GIFT by the Perfect Savior, who makes us perfect forever. Through His life, death, resurrection and ascension He makes us perfect.
Today, the Holy Spirit reminds you once more, that God is in the business of giving. He gave life to Adam and Eve. He gave deliverance to Noah and His family. He gave freedom to the Israelites. He gave Joshua victories over his enemies. He gave David a kingdom, land and property and He still offers gifts today.
Indeed, our loving Father is in the business of giving, and we are the recipients of His gifts—God’s great and perfect gift is found in the manger. The greatest and most perfect GIFT ever received is a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. This is the PERFECT gift. It never runs out, it never rusts, goes out of style, or be out of use. You don’t have to exchange it or take it back. Its benefits are complete and useful. It always fits, always gives blessings, always comforts, always brings joy and lasting peace. PAUSE.
Beautiful people of God, few days back, I got a Christmas card from an elderly lady. What she wrote was so blessed and beautiful—I was moved by what she wrote, and wanted to share it with you. Here is a snippet from her letter: “…Well I don’t get excited about the run around and the shopping and all that goes with it. What I get excited about is Church and the True meaning of the Holiday. Services, Christmas Eve program, Christmas Day Services that is what it means the most. I don’t care if I get gifts. There is only one gift I need and that is the GIFT of our Dear Lord and Savior.” Isn’t that wonderful? She knows what she needs—Her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ—the Babe of Bethlehem.
During Christmas we prepare different gifts, for the little ones one kind, for the older children another, and yet other kinds for parents and older folks. But it is not so with this highest—the Perfect GIFT, of which the angel here speaks! “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke2:10-11). It is one and the same great gift for all, for young and old, for rich and poor, for the shepherds at Bethlehem, for you and for me.
Children of God, today, hear the truth and keep it in your hearts. The Perfect GIFT is so unlike the others we get or give. Most of the gifts we get eventually wear out, become weary in our use and eventually either ends up on a rummage sale or in the garbage. It was God who first gave us His Ultimate and Perfect GIFT. Read the Christmas Tag from God, “Whoever believes ...” (Mark 16:16; John 3:16). That is a GIFT that you don’t put away after Christmas is over. Never wears out, never becomes weary, it will never be sold at a rummage sale. But always useful!
Most precious Bride of Christ, always remember the GREATEST GIFT you will ever receive is not found in stores, or under your Christmas tree. It is found in the Babe of Bethlehem Jesus Christ who offers forgiveness, life and salvation. Because of this PERFECT, glorious and blessed GIFT, you will cherish and appreciate the gift of your family and friends. Amen and Merry Christmas!
Now the peace of God…
SOLI DEO GLORIA