Reverend Chris Baker, First Baptist Church of Centralia
Perhaps, there is no more practical gift you can give a loved one this Christmas. Two items that—I sincerely hope—all of us use. And according to a news story I read this week socks and underwear are the Christmas gift that people least want to receive. So if you don’t want to disappoint your loved ones this Christmas, maybe think of a different gift to give. But if you’ve already got socks and underwear wrapped and nestled safely under your Christmas tree, all is not lost.
I mean, disappointment really isn’t all that uncommon around Christmastime. This time of year brings a lot of joy, but also a lot of pressure, right parents? You’ve got to pick out just the perfect gift, which means you have a plan. You have to know what your kids like and what they don’t like and the right colors and there’s always a new Christmas fad or hot toy that’s difficult to get your hands on. And even in the years where you nail it. . . years where you not only buy the right stuff in the right colors in the right sizes and you even find it on sale, you know, the mythical year when everything falls into place just the way you would have scripted it. . . .there’s a magical moment when your kid opens their perfectly selected, gift, loves it for 10 minutes, and then ends up playing with the box. So they’re not disappointed but you are!
We make such a big deal out of the things on the periphery of Christmas that the risk of frustration and disappointment is very real.
Here’s my pastoral concern at Christmas: While we sing about the baby Jesus sleeping in heavenly peace, we do so moving from event to event at a hellish pace. In the midst of the good, we forget that the moment in time we are celebrating is when God broke into human history to secure our everlasting peace once-and-for-all.
The Christmas parties, and school musicals, and family gatherings and gift exchanges aren’t bad. But if we exhaust our energies in those things and we set our hopes on the material gifts of Christmas we run the risk of missing out on the greatest gift of all.
A man named Simeon, who said the following words upon seeing our infant Messiah:
Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised.
When Jesus Christ was born to a virgin mother He brought with Him a promise of peace for those who belong to Him. That’s a promise that remains true today and it’s a promise that, if you call Him your Savior, will never leave you disappointed. Simeon’s story (found in Luke 2) teaches us that we’ve been freed from anxiety to live in peace because we are experiencing the salvation bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. The birth of the Messiah delivered peace once-and-for-all to God’s people.
Simeon was righteous, devout, and guided by the Holy Spirit. That guidance led him to see the very face of God. Whether you get socks and underwear this Christmas or whether you get nothing at all, if you belong to Jesus Christ you’ve got something to celebrate this Christmas. You’ve been gifted faith by a Holy Spirit that has made you righteous, empowered you to be devout and will guide you to see the very face of God—just like Simeon.
Sure, the world has worked to cloud the joy of Christmas with gadgets and toys and gifts and trees and Santa Clause and yard decorations. None of those things are bad. But don’t let the buzz of Christmas distract you from the point—the Messiah, the savior of the world, has come. And He has won for us a lasting and eternal peace. Christ fought and won peace on our behalf. Have you taken hold of that peace this Christmas?