05 March 2008


One of the local papers runs a column on the religion page every week that cycles around to many of the pastors in the area. I found out (quite late in the game) that my turn is up this week. Since I've nothing better to post, I provide it here.

And what has happened to all of those wonderful Christmas gifts which were given only a few months ago?  I am often curious to know if what was received turned out to be as good as expected.  Most often, it is not.  Still, we continue through each year with great anticipation for those certain treasures which will quickly lose their shininess and routinely break their promise of fulfillment.

Did you get everything you wanted?  Were you taken by surprise?  Perhaps you received something which you didn't want in the first place!  Such a pathetic state is not reserved for little boys who are forced to unwrap socks and underwear.  The cycle of gift-giving is filled with all sorts of emotion and reaction.  And perhaps that is what makes it so much fun, and disappointing.  Whenever we raise our expectations there exists the possibility of disenchantment, which introduces the obnoxiously long lines in the post-holiday world.

It has been said that this whole cycle of giving began as a way of commemorating the first Christmas gift - a little child who would be the hope of the world.  Perhaps we might ask ourselves: What has happened to this present?  Certainly the world is no more peaceful or safe or pleasant; it is still hard to muster up any good will toward one another.  Indeed, what has happened to the little child who would be the hope of the world?

As you well know, babies grow up and become adults.  There was no exception with this little child, and many people who weren't his mother thought he was quite special.  Many considered him to be the hope of the world, and expected him to bring healing and freedom.  As his popularity grew, those who had never thought that they could be winners in the world began to believe that the world could be a new place with new life.

One particular day (a Sunday by our calendar), this man came to Jerusalem, the center of Jewish faith and government and whatever else was going on.  For those who were clinging to hope this was a day of celebration because they expected this man to overthrow the political rulers and set up a new kingdom.  But when he didn't do this, their victorious palm-waving turned into outrage - a gift of hope which didn't look like what they expected.

Even though it didn't look familiar, there was a certain revolution underway.  For this man opened doors to life and tore down curtains of separation between us and our Creator - obstacles which shouldn't have been there in the first place.  This is so much more than setting up a new king or governor.  It is changing the world.

To some, this man is the gift that was never requested, but greatly received.  To others he is the gift that was given but never wanted.  To everyone who is brave enough to open this gift and look directly at it, he is the gift that fulfills all our wants and our needs.  He is Jesus.  And for centuries past and centuries to come we will rediscover this Easter present is indeed the most perfect Christmas gift.

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