Scripture: Isaiah 9: 6-7a; John 1:1-5; Luke 2:4-7
Pastor Tom Millner
SpiritSong Worship Center
What an exciting time of the year! Christmas parties, beautiful music, delicious treats, spectacular trees, decorations galore, and gifts wrapped neatly under the tree. The excitement on Christmas Eve is palpable; shopping all done, travel plans complete, worship service inspired, and now it's the joy of anticipation. Will they like the gifts? What will I get? Did he/she remember what I asked for? Did I spend too much; too little? How many remember what you got for Christmas in 2002? How many of you remember what you gave to whom in 1999? Don't remember? Wow! Must have been awesome, huh? From "black Friday" till Christmas day is about 30 days – days focused toward preparation for the Christmas celebration – giving, getting, decorating, entertaining, begrudging, lamenting, over-spending, rehearsing, and planning! Think about it, since 1997, we've spent a full year in the Christmas season! My, oh my, how time flies.
In today's world we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ. In the early church the birth of Christ was commemorated. To commemorate means to observe; to give special recognition. The celebration of Christmas today is like a commemoration on SPEED; Glitz, glamour, and all that glitters. It's done with such speed that we call it X-mas. The word means Christ's Mass – the commemoration of the gift of Christ to the world. The commemoration reminds us of what we've been given. The celebration today centers around what we're giving and getting. The former focuses on the given, the latter on the gifting. What, then, is Christmas really about? Is it a commemoration or a celebration? The answer is YES!
We commemorate the birth of Christ to remind us of God's greatest gift to mankind – the person, Jesus. You see, without Him, why would we celebrate? What would we commemorate? At the birth of Jesus was the greatest occurrence in the history of the universe. God came to us as one of us – but in the most unlikely fashion; an infant born to an unwed mother, in a barn full of manure and animals, without social status, totally dependant upon the good graces of a step-father and an immature young mother. The genetic makeup of a perfect creator mingled with created makeup fraught with a lineage of self-centeredness inherited from the Garden of Eden. The stuff of science fiction movies – manifest in flesh thousands of years before the invention of movie projectors.
Why would there have been such an unlikely occurrence? Because we have a creator so crazy in love with His greatest creation, that He desires it to be brought back to its original intent as a divine reflection of His own perfect love. You see, the reflector had become so tarnished by turning its reflection into itself, that the Creator could no longer be seen in His creation. The reflector kept trying to repair the tarnish, but every time it did, it laid down even more tarnish as it failed to clean itself. It somehow knew that it wasn't living its full potential and created for itself all sorts of objects and intentions crafted to fulfill its original design. So, the Creator inserted Himself into the reflective mix, giving a shining example of reflection to perfection. So distraught by its own dullness, the reflector put to death the Perfect Reflector. The Perfect Reflector, at His death, took upon himself all the tarnish that was and would ever be. Then upon His overcoming death, He left the tarnish in the grave forever. Though we still tarnish, the living, Perfect Reflector, burns through that tarnish giving us the light of His eternal perfection. The "GIFT" that we've been given is the presence of the Reflector's polish, ever polishing us to the Creator's original reflection. The gift we are called to give in return is our tarnished selves to be polished to the day of perfect reflection. He can't use our self-polished effort because that only adds more tarnish. In this life we will offer no more than a poor reflection of the true Image in whose likeness we are made. The greatest gift we can give this Christmas is our tarnished, poor reflective, selves to the polishing hands of the Savior, who covering us with His perfect reflection, sooths our imperfection. So the focus today, tomorrow, and every day is NOT the Gift we get, but the gift of self back to the perfect Giver for the perfect Gift already given!
"You shall have no other gods before Me."