The Perfect Christmas Gift

The perfect Christmas gift is given.  It is not found under the tree but first discovered out in the stable.  As the giver gives the gift, only one more thing is needed.  Again the story found in Luke’s gospel is instructive. These low class, no account people called shepherds got it right.  They received the gift.  They didn’t stand around wondering or go immediately back to work as if nothing had happened.  “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."  So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; . . . The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:15-17, 20). They, the least deserving, received the perfect gift from God the giver, the very person of God in the form of a helpless vulnerable baby born to and for all people.  They acted on the reception of this greatest of gifts.  They worshipped and shared the gift with others by telling the story and by how they reached out in love to others. A great preacher named Forsberg once recalled an incident that happened to him while he was standing in a post office line just before Christmas.  The man ahead of him in line was mailing a birthday gift to a friend born on Christmas day.  “The post office worker shook his head and commented, ‘Boy, that guy’s a loser.  Imagine having a birthday on Christmas.  One present fits all.  Thank God I don’t know of anyone born on Christmas Day.’  The man just behind Dr. Forsberg whispered rather loudly, ‘Thank God I do.’” What about you?  The greatest gift, the perfect gift is given by God the giver.  It is the gift of God’s love, favor and salvation in the very person of God found in the vulnerable human form of a baby.  Will you receive this gift?  Will you unwrap this package given from God to you? My friend and colleague Milton Lewis, Pastor of Northern Hills United Methodist Church in San Antonio, remembered the year the perfect gift was supposed to be Elmo.  He wrote perceptively:  “Do you find it curious and mildly disturbing that everyone's looking for Elmo while no one's looking for Jesus? Jesus has been here all along. Jesus is available every year. I guess the novelty of Jesus has just worn off. "I guess that’s the meaning of the bumper sticker, "Wise Men Still Seek Him." The One who sneaked quietly into human history.  The One who came to set us free and give us eternal life. The One who fills life with meaning. The One who, once you know Him, you aren't so worked up about whether you have an Elmo or not. Jesus, even though He is available to all and free to all, is still worth seeking. Still worth finding. Still worth knowing. The wise still seek Him. "Elmos come and go. Jesus endures. You play with Elmo awhile, then you get tired of Elmo and toss him in the closet. Jesus stays with you, abides with you, fills your life with direction and purpose and joy and hope. "If you come looking for Jesus, you will find Him. We have plenty of Jesus in stock. So this Christmas I urge you: Give your life to Jesus. Jesus, not Elmo, is your passport to eternal life” (Rev. Milton Lewis, Pastoral Letter, Northern Hills United Methodist Church, December, 1996). This baby is the perfect Christmas gift.  He is God’s gift to us, to all of us.  For now, let us simply receive this perfect gift given by the giver in love. "Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10). May we revel in the joy of this present; the wonder and love of it.  God enters the world for our sake through a homeless refugee couple and we, like the shepherds of old, are invited to receive the gift of God’s very person given in love.  Later, much may be required of us; later, we may respond in many ways; but at this time our greatest act can be simply to receive and enjoy this gift. In this perfect gift there is here for us:

More light than we can learn, More wealth than we can treasure, More love than we can earn, More peace than we can measure, Because one child is born.” (Christopher Frey)