This Christmas Eve we will open the final and most important gift in our Advent worship series, “We Have Gifts to Open.” With “The Gift of a Child” we open the amazing gift of possibility — a gift that, in the larger picture, could go unnoticed, a seeming non-event that one day makes all the difference in the world.
During all the power and political struggles on the world stage at the time Jesus was born, the birth of a single baby in a Bethlehem stable could have seemed to be of no significance at all. And yet, as we all know now, the birth of the Christ Child that year — and again each year in our hearts — was the gift that changed everything for all time.
The gift of the Christ Child reminds us that sometimes it is the promise, such as in the birth of a child — or even in becoming childlike — that holds the most significant possibilities. Sometimes it is in the smallest of events, decisions, or actions that we find the seeds of unfolding greatness beyond our original intention or imagination.
One of my favorite stories about this is the recounting of 1809. It was an ordinary year by all the measurements available in that time. Nothing remarkable happened at all. Well, wait. There were 10 babies born that year in the midst of many others, of course, that I should probably mention. They were just regular babies, born in the usual way, to more or less typical parents and families and lives. Their names were Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Darwin, Kit Carson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Felix Mendelssohn, William Travis, Cyrus McCormick, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Louis Braille. With the birth of these babies came future impact no one could have possibly imagined at the time of their birth — and yet now we can’t imagine what our world would be like without the gifts they delivered to the world.
With that in mind, what great possibilities are being born into our world today? What small, seemingly insignificant event is waiting to blossom into something of greater impact than we can begin to imagine right now?
The Gift of a Child brings into our lives a continuous reminder of possibilities we can’t yet imagine that first appear to us as something small and seemingly insignificant. A phone call. An unexpected visit. An event you didn’t really want to attend. Registering for a class. Responding to a sense of call that doesn’t really make much sense, but feels important nonetheless. Where and when will your greatest possibility be born?
I look forward to opening The Gift of a Child with you on Christmas Eve. The last verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” expresses beautifully the gift we open at Christmas as the Christ Child is born in us anew:
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. You have made the nation great; you have increased its joy. They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice. As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them, the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor. Because every boot of the thundering warriors, and every garment rolled in blood will be burned, fuel for the fire. A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom, establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.