December 25, 2005

Christmas Day

"The Gift of Gifts"

(John 1:1-14)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


Dick Van Dyke Clip:

That's one of my favorite scenes from the old Dick Van Dyke show. It's filled with laughter and joy and whenever I see it, it brings back all kinds of warm memories. And like the big box on stage that held the musicians, Christmas is filled with lots of boxes and presents.

And part of the fun of Christmas morning is unwrapping the presents. And each present is opened in a unique way, depending on who it's form and how it was wrapped. Some presents are meant to be torn into. The wrapping paper's just there to hide what's inside.

But then there are other presents where the wrapping is part of the present so you want to be very careful. You don't want to tear or inadvertently wrinkle the paper any more than necessary. You make sure the bow and ribbon isn't smashed and thrown away. And then you carefully take the gift out of the box. Maybe it's something to wear, so you try it on. Maybe it's something to admire so you lift it up for all to see and then place it in a safe place.

Maybe, just maybe it's something you've wanted your whole life, so you hug it and hold it in your lap. Maybe it's a complete surprise but turns out to be the most wonderful, most beautiful gift you've ever received. You don't know it yet, but it'll be one that you cherish all of your life. And the feeling you have now is one you'll want to pass on and share with everyone you know and love.

That's what happened, that first Christmas morning. The most wonderful Gift of all, the Gift of Gifts was born and wrapped in swaddling clothes. And with Him came and abundance of gifts for all humankind.


Wonderful Life Clip:

The first Gift brought was the Gift of Hope. We know that not everyone in the world or even in our community or church feels that same sense of joy. Because of the circumstances of life, many people are having George Bailey moments of discouragement.

But right smack into the middle of that discouragement comes the Son of God with a message of Hope. And this wasn't some transient hope but Hope born of the Word made flesh living among us full of grace and truth..


Charlie Brown Clip

It's amazing how a plainly drawn piece of animation can make such a powerful impact. Simply hearing the child's voice reciting the angel's announcement to the shepherds about the birth of Christ sends chills. The message is simple as well, but deeply profound.

The Gift of Gifts, the true meaning of Christmas fills us not only with hope, but with the Spirit of Christmas, which is the Fruit of the Spirit found in Gal 5:22-23: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things." NRSV

The True meaning of Christmas, this child, the Word of God made flesh, lives in us through the spirit. God gave us Himself. God is the Spirit within us, reminding us who we are and whose we are so we can be the people God created us to be.


Polar Express Clip

And because God is with us, because we experience the Hope and Spirit given by this Gift of Gifts, we can say with the conductor. "Sometimes seeing is believing. And sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see." And that's not a statement about Santa Claus. That phrase is about faith.

That's the third part of this Gift of Gifts. The Word of God made flesh fills us with Faith. And that may be the most precious gift of all. For that faith tells us we're loved beyond measure. We don't deserve it but still it's offered unconditionally. And the Gift of Gifts, this Christ child, fills us with the Faith we need to accept this unconditional love. All God really wants is to live in our hearts.


Wish List Clip (1)

I hope you got what you wanted for Christmas. But more importantly, I hope God got what God wants. For the whole purpose of the coming of Christ and the giving of the Gift of all Gifts is so God could fulfill God's own wish list.

God's Gift of Gifts is His Son, given for each of us. But given especially for You. It's not a generic gift but one picked out so you can know life without the burden of sin. The burden of worry over whether you're good enough or did enough good deeds. None of that matters once you've accepted and opened this Gift.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.







Other References Consulted (Copyright, Richard Niell Donovan, 2000) (Richard Fairchild Lectionary Resources)

Homiletics, (Communications Resources, Inc., Canton, OH)

Lectionary Homiletics, (Lectionary Homiletics, Inc. Midlothian, VA)

Dynamic Preaching, (Seven Worlds Publishing, Knoxville, TN)

The Clergy Journal, (Logos Productions, Inc., Inver Grove Heights, MN)

Preaching Magazine (Preaching Resources, Jackson, TN)

Circuit Rider, (The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN)

The Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)

The New Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995)

Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 2002) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Miracles, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1998) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Parables, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1997) SermonPrep Version.