December 24, 2016
Birthdays have some traditions associated with them. First and foremost the birthday is attached to a person who has a name. Second, birthdays are celebrated with groups of people usually family and invited guests. Third, birthdays are about presents. Most often the one celebrating receives presents but the last few years it is not uncommon to hear of favours or presents for those that attend the birthday party. This brings to mind what we can learn from a very special birthday.
It is hard to believe that we can have a name attached to the omnipotent God. In the days of Moses God was referred to as the name I AM. Centuries later we get a familiar name which is Jesus. The Alpha and the Omega, the eternal God is given the name Jesus. Jesus is born. It is his birthday. He became Emmanuel “God with Us”. Jesus is the very person of God. God is no longer unknown and removed. Instead, God is near and known.
THE PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE
God sent the invitation to the known world. His invitation included written scripture, Angelic proclamation, and astronomical anomalies. There was a possibility of thousands upon thousands visiting Jesus. Yet, who attended his first birthday? Shepherds, Mary and Joseph. Only much later did other guests arrive which were the Magi from the East. There is no written account of anybody else from Bethlehem or Jerusalem visiting Jesus. The tiniest crowd shows up for the biggest birthday in the history of humanity. We also are invited to celebrate His birthday. We know he was born in Bethlehem, we know His name but do we accept his invitation. So often much is made of making it a celebration with family and friends but we forget whose birthday we celebrate. Imagine for a moment having a birthday party where the invited guests talk amongst each other and give each other gifts but do not recognize the birthday boy/girl. Imagine that of all the gifts exchanged none are given to the one who is celebrating the birthday. We would consider it an insult and disrespect to the birthday person. Ask yourself this simple question. As an invited guest, have I recognized whose birthday is being celebrated? Have I taken time to acknowledge Jesus and give him praise?
THE PRESENTS GIVEN AND RECEIVED
No birthday would be complete without having presents present. It is a marvelous and wonderful thing that humans have the capability to recognize and honour somebody with a gift. A gift is a symbol of the time and money it took to find and wrap something that is meaningful to the recipient. The favours handed out to invited guests acknowledge with thanks the thoughtfulness of the guests.
Let us turn to the nativity of Jesus. The shepherds offer a gift of their adoration and presence. They did not have much but they sacrificed their livelihood to see Jesus. They showed, by their presence, the value of Jesus. That was their present. The magi well they offered very costly gifts: Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh. The angels offered songs of praise. God gives us the most precious ‘favour’ goodwill and peace on earth. It is important for us to remember that this is not a typical birthday. It is literally celebrating the birth of our salvation (Yeshua or Jesus means ‘Saviour’). Christmas is not about Santa Claus or family parties. Christmas is about Jesus the Christ. He, Jesus, is the reason for this season.
Let us pray