Christmas season our message series is entitled: "Christmas
- When God Visited Earth."
Last week my father began with one of the great texts, from
Isaiah 40:1, "Comfort My people says your God."
I will continue with the text "Prepare ye the way of
the Lord (Isaiah 40:3). As we prepare for Christmas, there
are many things that need to be prepared. The prophet Isaiah
said you have to level the mountains and fill the valleys.
I don't think you have to go that far for Christmas; you
don't have to make all the roads straight, as the prophet
think we do need to understand the purpose and the meaning
of this statement, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord."
God is asking us to prepare ourselves for the coming of
Christmas. When I think about preparing for Christmas I
think about my to do list. I call it my honey list, in other
words all the things my honey tells me I need to do before
Christmas. That includes putting the lights on the house,
putting the lights on the Christmas tree, and other things
that need to be done around the house. Many of us have a
long list of things we need to do, and sometimes we forget
the most important thing of all, the thing God looks at
most. He wants us to prepare ourselves, our relationships
with others and most importantly, our relationship with
Him. I can not think of anything that is more important!
is hard for us to develop our relationships, especially
during this time of the year. It is difficult, but some
of the most important things we can do in preparation for
Christmas, is to prepare ourselves, our relationship with
God, and our relationship with others. If you are not right
with yourself, you are going to have problems with others,
and if you are not right with God, you will not be right
with yourself. If you are not right with others, you are
not going to be right with God.
three relationships, with ourselves, with others, and with
God are intertwined. What can we do this Christmas? We can
give our baggage away and download resentment. Give away
all the things that hold us back from experiencing the relationship
that God wants us to have, with ourselves, with Him and
the resentments that people have are minor things. For example,
this morning I met one of my nieces here at Church. I have
nicknames for a lot of my nieces, things that make them
feel good. So, I call this particular niece my favorite
oldest Penner niece, because her last name is Penner, and
she happens to be the oldest, which means that name is unique
to her. So I said to her, "how is my favorite oldest
Penner niece this morning?" She looked at me and she
said "I'm not old!" She happens to be 14 years
old. I said to her, "well, how old is old?" She
thought for a moment and she said "30!" I replied,
"then what does that make Grandpa?" She replied,
easy for us to resent minor things, such as people remarking
about our age; yet, we realize there are things that are
far more serious than that.
past week I listened to the interview that Tim Russert did
with Susan St. James. She lost her son in a terrible plane
accident, and her husband is in the hospital. You might
remember Susan St. James as an Emmy award winning actress.
Tim Russert asked her about resentment, and she showed a
beautiful spirit by replying, "Resentment, there's
no room for resentment." She continued, "Resentment
is like drinking a poison and hoping that somebody else
will die". Incredible thought isn't it? Susan St. James
says there is no room for resentment in this world today.
That is what the Christmas Spirit is all about.
it is our responsibility as we prepare for Christmas, to
get rid of the baggage, the resentment, the hatred, the
things that hold us back from experiencing the peace, and
the joy and the love that defines Christmas.
have heard a story of a milkman, name Don, who had a milk
route here in California in 1963. One day he was delivering
milk to a customer named Shirley. Shirley noticed that Don
was upset so she asked him about it. Apparently the milkman
had another customer on the route who owed money on her
account. Don had extended credit to her and her family because
her husband needed to find a second job to meet their financial
needs. She promised to pay him as soon as her husband found
a second job. One day, Don went there to make a delivery
and the house was empty, they had moved away and there was
no forwarding address, and Don was stuck with the milk bill
for the money that was owned to him. He was very upset and
resentful that this family had up and left without paying
their bill, and that he would be stuck with paying the bill.
After explaining all of this to Shirley, she had a suggestion.
She told Don to give a Christmas gift. Shirley told him,
"I want you to think about, and pray about giving a
Christmas gift to that family. The Christmas gift you should
give them is the invoice that they never have received and
they never will receive. You need to give her and her family
a Christmas gift - give them the gift of that milk."
contemplating and thinking about this for several weeks,
Don decided to do just that. About a week before Christmas
he was delivering milk to Shirley and he was smiling and
very happy. He explained to Shirley, "I gave the Christmas
gift - I have taken care of that milk bill." And, he
said, "I have to tell you what happened. I was delivering
milk for a co-worker on his route and you won't believe
who I saw! I was leaving a house and all of a sudden I looked
behind me and there was a lady running after me. I looked
around and it was the woman who had moved away without paying
her bill!" The woman said, "My husband got a second
job and we had to leave in a hurry and here I have $20 for
you!" Well, Don couldn't take her money and he told
her he had already given her the gift of the milk. He told
her, "I gave that to you and your children, I can't
take your money." And with that tears flowed down her
face, and they hugged and he and said, "that was the
most beautiful Christmas gift I've ever given to anybody!"
do we prepare for Christmas? When God visits earth, we give.
a poem called "The Stork." I don't know who wrote
it, it's anonymous. It goes like this:
"When Christ was born on Christmas day, the birds
and the beast knelt down to pray. And in wonder all adorning
kneeled, the oxen in his stall, the fox in the field, while
badger and bear, and each wild thing flocked around the
manger, where slept a king, housed in a stable at Bethlehem.
And the long legged stork was there with them, with her
feathers white, her crest held high, and all in her bright
compassionate eye. Alas warned she, how poor his bed, who
ruled the universe over head. The cozily curled sleep on
my breed, the Lord of the world lies hard indeed, un-pillowed
is he who should wear a crown then out of her bosom, she
plucked the down, the plums from her breast, she tugged
and tore, that the child should rest like a beggar no more,
but fine on a pallet, fit for a prince. And blessed has
the stork been, ever since."
stork gave. The milkman gave. Susan St. James gave. Today
I want to ask you to give. God has called us to give. The
gift He wants us to give Him this Christmas is called resentment.
It is called anger. It is called bitterness, it's called
anything that keeps us from experiencing and enjoying and
receiving His gift, the gift of His peace, the gift of His
love, and the gift of His joy. It is time to accept the
privilege of giving away your anger, resentment and bitterness.
Let it go. Let God come and touch you today. Don't let anyone;
don't let anything rob you of Christmas this year.
Heavenly Father, we thank You that You come to bring hope,
healing, joy, and to bring peace. We thank you for the gift
of Christmas and the incredible gift of You coming into
this world, coming to earth, to touch our lives, to touch
our minds, to touch our hearts and souls with Your presence,
with Your reality, with Your goodness. Now open our eyes
oh Lord, and remove anything that keeps us from experiencing
You, we give it all to You right now. Amen.