going to share a message which says, “Prepare ye the
way of the Lord.” And 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 Isaiah says.
But what I think
we do need to do is understand what the purpose and the
meaning of what this statement is all about, “Prepare
ye the way of the Lord.” God is asking us to prepare
ourselves for the coming of Christmas. You know we think
about preparing for Christmas and the main things I think
about right away, is my to do list, my honey list I call
it. And all the things my honey tells me I need to do before
Christmas, and that includes getting the lights on the house,
getting the lights on the tree, getting some certain things
that need to be done, and she’s shaking her head,
going yes, you better get all those things done.
And we have all
of these 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, and
our understanding with Him, with our self, and with others.
But it is hard for us, from times to times to develop our
relationships especially during this time of the year. It’s
difficult but some of the most important things we need
to do, in preparation for Christmas, is to prepare ourselves,
our relationship with God, and our relationship with others
because if you’re not right with yourself, you’re
going to have problems with others. And if you’re
not right with God, we’re going to just not be right
with our self. And if you’re not right with others,
we’re not going to be right with God.
So all three
relationships with ourselves, with others, and with God
are intertwined and tied together and I’m not sure
where it begins, and where it ends. It’s kind of like
the chicken and the egg, what comes first? Our relationship
with our self, our relationship with God, our relationship
with others. It’s one of those questions we’ll
never have the answer to. Someday I’ll ask God, I’ll
go to heaven, I’ll say “God, which came first,
the chicken or the egg?” He knows, He did it, until
then I’ll never know. But what we can do this Christmas
season, is give; give our baggage away, download resentment,
download all of the things that hold us back from experiencing
the relationships that God wants us to have, with our self,
with Him and with others.
resentments that people have are minor things, like this
morning, I met my, in fact I have nicknames for a lot of
my nieces, things that make them feel good. So I have a
nickname for one of my nieces is, my favorite, I call her
my favorite oldest Penner niece, cause her last name is
Penner, and she happens to be the oldest. So I said, “How
is my oldest favorite Penner niece this morning,”
and she looked at me and she said “I’m not old.”
She happens to be 14 and I said “Well, how old is
old?” And she thought for a moment and she goes, “30.”
Thirty? And she goes “yes, 30.” “Oh well
what does that make grandpa then?” “ANCIENT!”
You know it’s
easy for us in minor things like that; you hear things that
you might take resentment to, someone insulting you about
being old just because you’re 50, and yet we realize
that there are things that are far more serious than that.
Which people could clearly and easily understand and take
resentment toward God, toward others or even themselves.
I listened to the interview that Tim Russert had with Susan
St. James. She lost her son in a terrible plane accident,
and her husband is in the hospital. And Susan St. James,
you might remember as an Emmy award winning TV actress.
She starred in “It Takes a Thief” with Robert
Wagner, remember that? This is for old people, you know?
Only old people remember this stuff, “McMillan and
Wife” with Rock Hudson and she got the Emmy for “Name
of the Game.” Lots of TV stuff and what a beautiful
spirit she had. And in that interview, she shared her philosophy
on life. And she said, you know, resentment: there just
isn’t room for any. I was taught that resentment is
drinking a poison and hoping somebody else would die. She
says there just isn’t room for resentment in this
the Christmas spirit. There isn’t any room for resentment
today. Against friends. Against associates. Against strangers.
Against family members. Against brother, sisters, mothers,
parents, children. There isn’t room for it anymore.
There only room for love. And that’s the message of
Christmas. God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten
Son. That whoever believes in Him will not parish, but have
everlasting life. And that is the Christmas message. Jesus
Christ born in the manger. A gift for us.
takes something from you, it hurts. But when they do just
give it to them and then you can never be robbed. Did you
ever realize that?
tells a story about when she moved to Lawndale, California
in 1962, ancient history. She had a milkman. Now for all
of you young people, milkmen are men who used to come to
the houses and deliver milk. They came in glass bottles
with a paper top. And they came in quart size and half gallon
size and they came in a little rack. A little metal rack
and they’d all four would sit there and the milkman
would come. And the amazing thing is they put them in the
back door, if you had a back door, by the kitchen door.
It was amazing. The service they provided and occasionally
you could order cottage cheese and eggs and... do you remember
those days? Wow. This is a little bit of nostalgia going
on, you know. The Christmas spirit. Christmas time they’d
deliver egg nog and then they’d put a little ribbon
around it, you know.
Well, she moved
to Lawndale and she had a milkman. His name was Don. And
Don was always a happy spirit and a happy go lucky bouncy
kind of a guy and one day he comes to the back of her door
and she sees him there in the early morning, because the
milkmen always came early in the morning. They have the
same kind of a schedule as the newspaper, you know. They
try to get everything done by 7:00 am. And so she comes
and she sees him and he’s just not quite his normal
She says, what’s
up? What’s the matter? Well, you can’t believe
it. I got stiffed by two people this month: One for $9.00
and one for $79.00. And for all you young folk who don’t
know what happens. That’s a lot of money. You had
a zero on the end of that. The buying power of a dollar
in 1962 was 10 times what it is today. So that’d be
equivalent to $790.00 dollars he got stiffed.
He said, this nice... I thought she was a real nice lady.
She had wonderful kids and she was just on tough times.
She says her husband was going to get a second job and she’d
get caught up and I just extended the credit and extended
the credit and extended the credit. All of a sudden I went
there yesterday and there was nobody there. No forwarding
address and I’m stiffed $79.00.
Next week he
comes back and Shirley sees him again and she says, so how
are things going. He goes, I’m angry. This time you
could see the scorn on his face. I’m angry. You know,
that lady I’ll tell you, she was really something
else. And her kids, they were the brattiest kids in the
whole world. You can’t believe it. He was angry. And
he was in the process of going through the grief process.
Because you know, every time we lose something, whether
it’s someone close to us, whether it’s something
that hurts us, whether it’s somebody that takes something
away, we go through the grief process. It’s almost
always the same. First denial. No, it really didn’t
happen. Then from denial you get into anger where you get
mad about it. Then you go through the sorrow and finally
So in this angry
stage Shirley comes to him and says do you know what you
need to do? You need to give that to that woman as a Christmas
gift. You need to give her and her kids a Christmas gift.
Are you kidding me? She goes, no I’m serious. Just
think about it! So the next week he comes back and he goes,
you now, I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t
know. I just don’t think I can quite make it.
The week before
Christmas he comes again. He says I got to tell you something
Shirley. I went and was delivering milk for a friend of
mine, he was on vacation and you won’t believe who
I saw. I went to his route, delivered milk and as I was
leaving the one house all of a sudden I looked behind me
and here’s this lady with a robe on and slippers on
running after me. And she goes, Don, Don. I looked around
and it was the woman who stiffed me! And she said my husband
got the second job. We had to leave in a hurry and our rent
was up and I’ve actually got $20.00 for you. And she
offered me the $20.00.
He says, but
I didn’t take it. He says the day before I gave it
to them. I made a prayer with God and I said I want to give
this family the milk. So I gave it to them. So when she
offered me the $20.00 I just hugged her and said, I can’t
take it, and she cried and for some reason I cried and I
gave her the milk.
What is Christmas
all about? What is the meaning of Christ coming to earth?
It’s giving sacrificially, in a way that society can’t
comprehend and realize. God has called us to give and the
gift that He wants us to give Him this Christmas is called
resentment. It’s called anger, its 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. Don’t
let anyone; don’t let anything rob you, of Christmas
Father, we thank You that You come to bring hope, to bring
healing, to bring joy, to bring peace, that Christmas is
about the incredible gift of You coming into this world,
coming to earth, to touch our lives, to touch our minds,
to touch our 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.