The Gift
The anticipation was unbearable, the expectation was immeasurable, the wait was endless, but finally appears to be at an end – the promised gift is at hand! We can see it! We can hear it! We can even touch it! So, what in God’s name is it??? A baby?!? A poor baby?!? A poor baby born to an unwed mother?!? This is the gift?!?! This is not the gift we registered for (did you even check the list?); this is not what we asked for; it is certainly not what we wanted; and if you can’t tell by our current predicament – this is not at all what we need! Thanks, but no thanks – you keep it. That was the reaction of God’s people to His greatest Gift to humankind - Thanks, but no thanks. Who could blame them, after all - they’d waited, they’d wondered, they’d suffered, they’d sacrificed, and God has the audacity to give them a fatherless infant? Afterall, theirs was a history filled with the actions of a mighty and powerful God who’d rain down fire from heaven if you even looked crossways at His beloved people. But sending a baby as their savior – a lot of good that’ll do. Okay, so that’s not exactly how God’s people reacted to the birth of Jesus – the truth is, that they were indifferent, they simply didn’t notice. Those who did take note, recognized the Christ-Child for who He was, and either worshiped Him or tried to eradicate Him. It wasn’t until later in the life of Jesus, after He’d performed countless public miracles, that most of God’s people said, “no thanks.” From our perspective in time, we can see that they were truly in the dark. The holy infant they ignored and the God-man they rejected was THE Promised One, THE Messiah, GOD with us IN THE FLESH. How did they miss the Advent (the coming) of Christ?!? How does anyone, then or now, fail to see The Gift that is Jesus?!? It is because we fail to recognize the understated genius of God at work. Although God is truly mighty and awesome and spectacular, oftentimes He chooses to be subtle and gentle and mild. That is why when the Jews wanted a powerful warrior king - they got the gift of a baby in a barnyard. That is why when they wanted a charismatic rebel who’d overthrow the Romans - they got the gift of a soft-spoken carpenter who obeyed the law and paid His taxes. That is also why when they wanted a hero who’d be honored and glorified by the whole world - they got the gift of a despised criminal on a cross. This Advent and Christmas season finds most of us in situations where we’d dearly love to see some of God’s good old-fashioned power and glory. We’d praise the Lord right out loud if He’d wipe out the corona virus overnight! We’d jump for joy if we could return to life as we once knew it – with hugs and handshakes and family and friends gathered together. If the government began to work together for the good of the people, we’d probably faint but then we’d praise God! That would all be AMAZING! But, if instead God chooses (as He most often does) to work in the background without lots of razzle dazzle – lets make sure that we don’t miss that during this holy season. Let’s rejoice in the gifts we do have: freedom, family, health, home, fellowship, and faith. Thank God for displaying His wisdom in the weakness of the manger. Thank God for showing His power in the death of His Son. Thank God for delivering His justice in mercy and grace. Above all else, thank God for the Gift of Jesus who Is still - God with Us!
May the Peace and Love of Christ Overwhelm you!
Pastor John