Pastor Alicia 008

pastor 11476c

advent message 2119c

“I need to make a confession.  I am a terrible gift giver.  I don’t know why I have this problem.  It’s not because I don’t try.  Maybe it’s because I’m just too practical.  I often buy people things I think they can use, not necessarily what they’d like to receive.  All too often I end up missing the mark; and being a pragmatist, I like to receive things I can use.  However, that rarely happens, either.

    Now I think we often have these epic fails at gift-giving because people in general don’t give gifts based on who people really are, but who we think they are.  And no matter how much the recipient of our present oohs and aahs and makes a fuss about our gift, there’s no mistaking that disappointed look in their eyes.

    Yet we’re not the first to have this experience.  Over two thousand years ago the people of Judea wanted their hearts desire - the Messiah, who had been promised them by the prophets.  They thought they knew who they were and what they needed - a mighty King to raise an army and free them from the Romans.  They wanted a royal and resplendent monarch.  Still others longed for a wise religious leader, one who stayed out of politics.

     But what they got was Jesus, who came, not in a form any of them wanted, but as a babe, born to humble parents in a dusty little backwater town. This one would sit down at table with tax collectors and prostitutes.  He would teach of transformation, renewal, and rebirth.  He would speak about a  kingdom where all are welcome by a loving God.

    He was a prince but not like worldly princes.  He was the prince of peace.  Yet he never hesitated to criticize and offend the religious leaders of the day; and, scandal of scandals, he would die a criminal’s death on a cross, taking with him our sin and guilt.  He rose three days later, reconciling us with God and giving us the gift of eternal life.  He was a savior to be with us every day in joy and in sorrow.  No, Jesus was not their idea of the perfect Christmas gift.  He was not the gift they wanted, but he was the gift they truly needed. 

    In World War II a soldier was on duty Christmas morning.  It had been his custom to go to church every Christmas morning with his family, but now, in service on the outlying districts of London, this was impossible.  So, with some of his soldier buddies, as dawn was breaking, he walked down the road that led to the city.  Soon they came upon an old gray stone building.  Over the main door were carved the words, “Queen Ann’s Orphanage.”
    They decided to knock and see what kind of celebration was taking place inside.  A matron came and explained that the children were orphans whose parents had been killed in the bombings in London.  She invited them in just as the children were tumbling out of bed.  There was no Christmas tree in the corner. There were no presents.

     So the soldiers moved around the room wishing the children Merry Christmas and giving them whatever gifts they had in their pockets: a stick of chewing gum, a Life Saver, a nickel, a pencil, a pocket knife, a good luck charm.

    The soldier who had gotten his buddies together noticed a little fellow alone in the corner, and that little fellow looked an awful lot like his nephew back home.  So the soldier approached him and said, “And you, little guy, what do you want for Christmas?”  The lad replied, “Will you hold me?”

    The soldier, with tears brimming in his eyes, picked up the little boy and held him very close in his arms.

So my dear friends in Christ, what do you want for Christmas?  If it’s someone to pick you up and hold you through all the trouble, trials and turmoil life can throw at you, someone to love you and keep on loving you when you fail or fall, someone to dry your tears in sadness and grief - someone who will never abandon you, even in the very face of death, then you have the greatest gift ever given. You have Jesus, and Jesus has you, forever.

A happy and blessed Christmas to you all,
           Pastor Alicia





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“If any want to become my disciples, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”               Mark 8:34b-35

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