Preparing for Worship – George Mason, senior pastor.
This Sunday is the Second Day of Christmas. If your mind goes straight to the song about the Twelve Days of Christmas, you know that your true love was supposed to give to you two turtle doves to go along with that partridge in the pear tree you received yesterday.
Most of us don’t receive gifts like turtle doves and partridges at Christmas, not to mention lords a-leaping or pipers piping. There may be a gold ring, but probably not five. Nonetheless, giving gifts at Christmas is a longstanding and beautiful tradition. I imagine most of you exchanged gifts this weekend with loved ones, an echo of the Magi and their gifts to baby Jesus of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Most of our gifts have a short shelf-life of enjoyment. Superhero capes end up in the toy closet in a few days, Barbies are banished to a lonely dollhouse (albeit sometimes with Ken), and only the rare adult will don her Elsa costume now and then to remind herself to Let It Go when life gets complicated. The best gifts are received not for what they can do for us over and over but for what they mean to us continually. Who gave them to us and why? Were they given thoughtfully or only dutifully? Do they reflect someone who knows us or only what the giver wanted to give us?
The gift of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving. Jesus is the Christ of Christmas. He is, as we often say, “the reason for the season,” but more than that, he is the ongoing sign of God’s covenant of love with all the world. When we look to Jesus, we aren’t supposed to stop there, looking at the gift alone. We are supposed to see in him God’s generosity and faithfulness to us.
“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” The good news of great joy that shall be to all people, as the angels put it, is that God is with us and for us. The heavens are on our side. Eternity pulses in time to bring us hope. Always.