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2015 Advent Worship Message #5 - Christmas Eve - "Behold"

Behold - 2015 Advent Message #5 - Christmas Eve

This being Christmas Eve, I wonder if all the gifts are purchased. I guess they better be since we are just a few hours from the start of the holiday, and maybe your tradition has led to some gifts already being opened.

I wonder how the gifts given this year will be received. Of course, the hope of those who
give gifts is that the presents will be appreciated - enjoyed if that is their purpose, used if
that is their purpose, cherished no matter what since the gifts have been selected or
prepared and wrapped with love and care.

Some gifts I have already received. Others will be opened tomorrow morning. I hope I
have shown and I hope I will show appreciation for each one. I hope I communicate to
the givers of the gifts that the love and care shown by them is valued. I hope that is what
I display.  But for a moment, let’s think of some other gifts. Gifts other than presents we can easily
open and enjoy and use. Other gifts we can give, not only this season, but every other
season. Gifts Jesus sincerely approves of.
To your enemy, forgiveness. That is something Jesus taught us to give. For instance, He advised us to turn the other cheek when we are attacked. He told us the reward for forgiveness, which is that if we
forgive others, God will forgive us. That is a good thing. Jesus Himself proved it is possible to forgive enemies. He did that when, on the cross of crucifixion, He prayed that those who were crucifying Him would be forgiven by God. Do you have any enemies? Why not give them the gift of forgiveness?

To an opponent, tolerance. Jesus also displayed that gift. One time when some parents had brought their children to Jesus so He would bless them, Jesus’ disciples tried to send them away. When Jesus noticed what was happening, He stopped the disciples by telling them to let the little children come to
Him. At that time Jesus was tolerant of those who asked for some of His time. He did
that because of His love.

Another time, after the disciples argued a bit about which of them was most important,
Jesus corrected them, but He was tolerant in that He gave them more and more
opportunities after that to learn.  Do you have anyone in your life who bothers you? Why not give that person the gift oftolerance? Never to the point of accepting sinful behaviors, but giving them the chance
to grow spiritually with you.

To a friend, your heart. Jesus taught we are to love our neighbors. That may at times call for great sacrifices, but most of the time it means just spending time with them or helping them out in some
ways. Again, Jesus Himself displayed that as He taught and as He did miracles. As He spent
time and energy doing both those things. We all have friends. Why not give them the gift of our hearts? What a wonderful gift. What a helpful gift. What an encouraging gift. A gift that can be enjoyed and used. A gift that should be cherished.

To a customer, service.
At the restaurant where I have a lunch meeting each week, there is a waitress who is
amazing. The first time I attended the meeting, I ordered a Diet Pepsi. Every week since
then she has a Diet Pepsi ready for me before I have a chance to order it. She brings it
with a smile. I hope I always express appreciation for the good service. I hope I can serve people with
equal efficiency and joy.

To all, charity.  There are so many people who do not have the many benefits I have. Can I help? Will I
help. Will we? What a wonderful gift charity can be.

To every child, a good example.
Jesus certainly approves of that gift. In fact, God Himself expressed that way back in the
Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy. He did that when He instructed adults to first of
all know the word of God themselves, but then to teach His word to children. To do so
when they rise in the morning and when they lay down at night. To teach when sitting
and when walking. To make the teaching of God’s word part of the home.  Of course, if you are a child, you can teach others in your age group. You can also teach the adults around you about the joy of learning. But the gift of setting a good example -what an important gift for every child.

To yourself, respect.
Remember a moment ago when the teaching was mentioned to love our neighbors?
There is something Jesus added to that. He said to love others as you love yourself.  Using myself as an example, I am not the tallest or the most athletic or the smartest person around. I am not the richest or the wisest or the kindest person around. I struggle to do much of anything with any kind of tool, which is kind of embarrassing. Outside of this congregation and a few other people a few other places, who even knows I exist?

But you know what? Jesus knows me. He has forgiven me and is tolerant of me. He has
given me His heart. He serves me well and is charitable toward me. He has and does set
a good example for me. I have accepted Him as Savior. He has accepted me. Therefore, I
can respect myself. What a wonderful gift that is.
* * * * *

Forgiveness, tolerance, my heart and yours. My service and yours. Charity, setting a
good example, and respect. What wonderful gifts. Gifts that are important. Gifts that can
be given, even when it might be difficult to do so because of another wonderful gift. The
gift of Jesus.

Behold the baby born of Mary. The birth announced to some shepherds who traveled a
few miles to worship Him. The birth celebrated by some Wise Men who traveled almost
a thousand miles one way to meet and worship the one born to be the Savior, the Christ,
the Lord. An event that makes it possible for us to give all the other gifts discussed this evening.
Gifts Jesus approves of. May those gifts be given and may they be appreciated as eagerly
as the other gifts we have opened or will open tomorrow. May each of those gifts be
enjoyed, appreciated, and cherished.

Jesus, thank You. Thank You for leaving the beauty of Heaven to come to earth. Thank
You for doing that for the purpose of bringing light - Your light - to the world. Help us to
use Your light as a guide to give gifts that are special to You. Thank You for coming.
Thank You for Your love. Happy Birthday. Amen.

Pastor George Cook

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