“Christmas Reflection: The Gifts of Christmas” Matthew 2:1-11 ~ Rev. G. Scott Turnbrook ~
December 24 (11 pm), 2018
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think Christmas gifts are getting way too complicated. I’m only in my early 50’s and I can’t keep up anymore. As I speak with the kids around the church this year, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t very easy to be a parent. Gift requests from Santa include: Hatchibabies, Nintendo Switch, airhogs, Fortnite, and video drones. These are all the rage this year. I wonder …whatever happened to the times when the gift lists included things like lego, superhero figures, dress up clothes for make believe? And if you might be older than I, you might challenge me and say: I remember times when a bat and a ball, a stick and puck or a hoop and a net were all that we ever wanted as a gift. And looking further back, perhaps the gifts differed even more.
This evening, we consider the greatest gift of this season ~ the timeless gift of the Christ Child. It’s odd because it wasn’t really the gift that the people wanted at the time. What the people wanted was a powerful ruler Messiah ~ the promised coming of one who would mightily trample the Roman army bringing a new world order where Israel was King. They envisioned, almost, a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of those WWE wrestlers we see on TV. A powerful rule-Messiah who would trample Rome. The gift they asked for back in the time of Jesus was a powerful Messiah who come and liberate them and bring the kind of peace that the prophets of old had promised.
Yet, God didn’t send a muscle-bulging liberator as the first Christmas Gift. God sent a vulnerable, innocent baby. A baby that would touch the depths of our human pain and struggle. A baby that would feel our pain, the would feel our suffering, that would understand the heights and depths of our humanity. In short, God sent one that would fully ‘be’ with us ~ the way that only a baby held in one’s arms can. God’s arrival as a child teaches us the depths of God’s care for us, the capacity for God’s yearning to be with us. There is nothing more precious for a parent than their child…and God sent God’s child into the world that we might fully know and understand God’s unconditional care for us.
We have a few new babies around Northwood this year ~ Liam and Ryan. And I love the game that is played whenever a baby is around ~ you know the game: ‘pass the baby’. I get to hold him for a brief moment…look into his eyes and see the possibility, the innocence, the vulnerability…until someone comes up and asks “can I hold him?” … and we pass the baby around and around and around. We’ve been playing pass the baby Jesus for 2,000 years. Whenever we hold the baby and look into his eyes and sense the depth of God’s love and compassion …whenever we share this love and care with others…we pass the baby.
This year we ran a coat drive along with some neighbouring businesses in Fleetwood. Over one hundred coats were collected and delivered to our brothers and sisters in need…we passed the baby. Christmas Hampers were delivered to families in need…and we passed the baby. Our Refugee family from Syria finally arrived in Surrey…we passed the baby. A “Merry Christmas” was wished and offered to others in a diverse myriad of ways…and we continued to pass the baby. The thing with the ‘pass the baby’ game, is that you are never allowed to hold onto the baby. That’s not allowed! You have to keep passing him on…and let the next person receive him…and so on…and so on. We receive God’s love, God’s grace and peace in the innocence of a vulnerable child…the greatest Christmas gift…we are embraced by it…and we pass it on to the next…and so on…and so on.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love all kinds of Christmas gifts ~ and I hope you open something wonderful under your tree. But, there is something about that gift of the baby…that first Christmas gift that will never be outdone…the gift that keeps on giving…and giving…for in Christmas, God has passed the baby to you. And so, let us receive in him the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love. Those gifts that are being held in your arms this evening and let us continue to pass the baby.
Merry Christmas. Amen.