Can you remember being a child and waiting for Christmas?
The anticipation grew every day.
Of course it was all about getting.
It was completely selfish.
I was 7 the first time I felt a different excitement, the eagerness to see someone else receive a gift from me.
My Dad took my siblings and me to shop for gifts for our Mom.
He was a plumber and we had a modest income, but that year he’d won a contract to build a new elementary school.
So we piled in the truck and went to town.
That Christmas I had my first experience of the joy of giving.
This morning a line from ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ accompanied me floating up to the surface of wakefulness.
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
Consider how long God waited for that Christmas morning?
Through the long ages of the story of mankind.
Ages of spiritual wandering, of sin, of tyranny and oppression toward one another.
Us breaking God’s heart with our ignorance and sin.
Then finally, the day arrived on the calendar of man.
The day God scheduled long ago, before even He made this earth.
Christ is not God’s Plan B made in haste after things went bad in Eden.
What did that first Christmas mean to God?
Why did a multitude of the heavenly host rejoice, breaking through the night sky in glorious praise?
They had waited so long to see the gift given.
Still they wait to see it received as successive generations come to age and hear the story of God’s wondrous gift.
Phillips Brooks was an Episcopal preacher.
He wrote the carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, for a children’s service at his church.
He’d visited the Holy Land and was moved by a Christmas Eve service in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
On that night so long ago the prophesies of Bethlehem were fulfilled.
A little nothing of a village would play its part in the already ages long saga of God’s perfect gift given to mankind.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”. . .
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
How God longs for every one of us to receive His gift.
The Bible tells us that the angels rejoice every time it happens.
Could you share the good news of God’s gift with someone this Christmas?
Here’s a beautiful rendition of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ from Sarah McLachlan.