Rev. Martha Jacobs
Christmas Eve Message
December 24, 2017
Well, here we are. The shopping is done. The packages are hopefully all wrapped – although I can remember some years when we stayed up half the night to put together a bike or a ping pong table that Santa was giving our niece and nephew. Hopefully, our post office has delivered all of the packages. Our UPS man is now with his family and Amazon shoppers have taken at least, a brief break.
According to a study by the National Retail Federation, most people will spend almost $1,000 on presents for family and friends this year. Not surprisingly, I could not find a statistic on how much we spend on ourselves. But, my guess is that under several of our trees are presents we bought for ourselves. Being good to ourselves is important – treating ourselves to a gift from time to time is good. Perhaps we have not been very good to ourselves this Christmas season, worrying a lot about things going on in our lives, in our country and in our world. Perhaps we are even sitting here wondering if the gifts we bought for those that we love will be enough. Will our loved ones be happy with what we bought for them?
This evening, I would like to suggest that you offer your loved ones a different kind of gift this year. It’s not too late to get ahold of it. You don’t need to worry if it is the right color or size or if there will be enough to go around. And, you can’t buy it in any store – not even on Amazon. That gift, which is displayed so fully on Christmas morning, is love. The greatest gift we can give to others and to ourselves, is the priceless gift of love.
We gather this evening to await the arrival of the greatest freely-given gift, the priceless gift of love from God. The gift of one born to peasant parents who didn’t have a lot of money and could only afford to give their child love. They were like many of us – struggling to survive – living in uncertain times, unsure of what might happen in their world. But, they had the gift of love, which though it is free, certainly comes with responsibilities. The responsibility to handle that love with great care. To handle it with respect, with honor. To treat that love as the greatest free gift that brings with it peace and joy and hope.
Dear friends, I invite you, as you awaken tomorrow morning, to pause and give thanks for the gift that comes to us in the form of a babe. Pause and give thanks to God, who loves us so much that God sent a part of Godself to walk with us to truly understand what we go through in our lives. Through that learning, Jesus treated those he encountered and who were in need, with great compassion. And, by his actions, he taught us to be more compassionate with each other and especially with those who are in need – those who are the least of these. That is the greatest gift we can give to others, both those we know and those we don’t. Care, concern, sensitivity, warmth, tenderness, mercy, kindness, and humanity. We are called to love others for who they are and all that they are.
As we strive to do here at FCC, we all need to respect love in its various and many forms. We need to respect the love that is shared with us by honoring it, trusting in it and tending to it with great care. Opening ourselves up to love anew, as we remember that Christ came down to earth, reminds us of God’s love for each one of us and encourages us to fulfill the commandment that we love our neighbors and ourselves.
So, let us use the gift of love from God wisely and carefully and tend to it by letting those that we love know that we love them – not with gifts that are beautifully wrapped and under our trees, but the gift of ourselves – openly shared and offered.
Take time tomorrow morning, perhaps even before gifts are opened, to pause and give thanks and share with your family and friends just how much you love them.
Dear ones, let us give back to each other the love, the acceptance, the forgiveness, that opens our hearts to love even more and to care more for each other, just as God cares for each one of us. Amen.