The True Treasure of Christmas
Christmas Message from the Christ the King School Christmas Service
Text: Luke 2:19
It was the same old thing all over again. The lights were down low. The Christmas tree was beaming. We had our snacks in hand. And the present unwrapping began. Wrapping paper and tissue paper and bows were flying everywhere. It looked like a tornado had struck our living room.
But this was usual. So were the presents. My younger sister and I got our normal pairs of socks and underwear. Ho hum. We got a few nice new shirts and pairs of pants. But we would wear holes in them at school in no time. We got a few new toys that would keep us occupied at least till New Years. Some Legos here, some G.I. Joes there. Nothing special. Just as quickly as it started—it was over.
Or so we thought. “Wait a minute,” my parents said. “There’s one more present.” They went to our living room coat closet. They dug for a while through all the snowsuits and hats and mittens and boots (see you need those kinds of things in Wisconsin), and they pulled out a garbage bag. What? A garbage bag? What kind of good could come in something that trashy?
My sister and I were intrigued. We ripped open the garbage bag. We dug through some crumpled old newspaper (those tricky parents!). And down at the bottom we found . . . a brand new Playstation video game system! Woohoo! Finally! I never had a video game system before! All my friends had Atari or Ninetendo with Duck Hunt but I never did. Finally! What a treasure!
In some ways, that really isn’t too much different than Jesus’ birth. What a mess of an event that was! No clean beds or flat screen TVs or mini fridges packed with goodies. No nurses. No midwives. Only cattle and barn animals as the first witnesses. No epidural. No cute onesies with basketballs and footballs on them. The baby was wrapped in clothes. No cradle. No bassinet. No NIC unit. No billi-lamps or billi-beds. He was placed in a manger—a feeding trough for animals. The baby wasn’t born to dignitaries or royalty. It was a poor carpenter and his wife.
Even if the story were made up—which it isn’t—you couldn’t make up something more trashy, more dirty, more humble. Yet beneath all of that exterior appearance of trash, was a true treasure. Mary and Joseph understood that. They gave their baby boy the name the angel told them to give—Jesus, which means “he saves,” because he would save his people from their sins.
It is beyond what we can fathom or understand, but lying in that tiny little manger was the God of the universe—the God who made all things, the God who holds all things in his hands. Lying in that manger was the fulfillment of thousands of years of promises. Lying in that manger was the one who would soon enough be dying on a cross, paying for a world of sin and taking the place of a world full of sinners.
Mary understood the real mystery of that moment. And so we’re told, “Mary treasured up all of these things and pondered them in her heart.” How could God take on human flesh? How could God love us this much? How could God be willing to live for us and die for us? How could God be gracious enough to forgive all our wrongs and fling wide the gates of heaven? That is the mystery of God’s mercy. That is the treasure that Mary pondered.
There is so much to do at Christmas! There are Christmas cards to write out and mail out on time. There are Christmas cookies to bake. Last minute Christmas shopping. Cleaning the house. Having friends over. And so much more.
But this Christmas recognize what all of that really is—trash. Buried beneath all of that worldly trash of Christmas is the true treasure of Christmas. You’ll hear the kids sing the words in just a few moments—Today is born our Savior, our Savior Christ the Lord.
Be like Mary this Christmas. Treasure up all of these things and ponder them in your heart. Ponder a God lying in manger who would later be dying on a cross. Ponder a God that forgives sins and gives eternal life. Ponder a God that did this for you and gives this to you.
Hang your mistletoe. Drink your eggnog. Open and give lots of presents. Take lots of pictures and make lots of memories. Do it all this year. But never forget your true treasure buried beneath it all—your Savior Christ the Lord.