Synopsis: Amazon might be able to spread some holiday cheer by sending billions of packages around the world, but God was able to send everyone in the world one gift that would bring eternal joy and peace. How many have refused to accept God’s Bundle of Joy?
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Scriptures: Luke 2:1-20
Joy to the World! The Lord has come!
How many of you have seen the Amazon commercials with those smiling, singing packages, belting out Solomon Burke’s classic track, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love?”
The full-length commercial starts with a young girl playing the song on a pink piano and soon holiday cheer is spreading – to a budding new romance on a train, to an Amazon delivery driver, to an elderly couple dancing in their living room, to feet tapping in an office meeting room, to a woman singing out loud on a bus … from there, the joy seems to spread all over the world.
We recently got a package from Amazon, and Tabatha joked, “You see! The packages don’t look like they do in the commercial. Their smiling, singing arrow-mouths are taped shut!” I thought, “Well yeah! You have to rip the tape off to open the box! An unopened package can’t bring anyone joy.”
How many of you have ever felt very uncomfortable accepting a gift, or maybe even refused to take one? If you have, you’re not alone. According to Psychology Today, most people find it harder to receive than to give for a couple of reasons.
First, we feel afraid. We may fear not being in control, like we are when we give. We may fear the connection receiving the gift creates with the giver; there may be some strings attached to the gift.
Second, we feel unworthy. We may feel deep down that it is too selfish to receive. But a common feeling, especially this time of year, is what I call the dreaded “Holiday Gift Guilt Complex.” How can we take a gift from someone when we didn’t get them one?
Amazon might be able to spread some holiday cheer around the world with millions of packages, but tonight, we celebrate the moment when the entire world was given one priceless gift, not from Amazon, but a special delivery from God, not in the form of a cardboard box wrapped with tape, but in the form of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes – a bundle of pure joy.
But how many are reluctant or even refuse to accept God’s Bundle of Joy?
The shepherds in our scripture reading were described as lowly – poor, simple folk – watching over their flocks by night – you know, working the graveyard shift. The next thing they knew, they were getting a message from God: Light was shining all around them, an angel was speaking to them, and the entire heavenly host was singing.
When an Amazon package arrives, all we get is an email or text message.
The shepherds were terrified! But the angel said to them, “Don’t’ be afraid! I have good news for you!” Then, the angel announced the arrival of God’s Bundle of Joy: “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
After the angel tells the shepherds where to find God’s Bundle of Joy, he tells them what to look for: They will find the Messiah wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. The shepherds were probably shocked. That didn’t sound like the right kind of packaging for the Messiah. Maybe they expected to find him wrapped in the finest silk, lying in a crib of gold, inside a king’s palace.
These lowly shepherds were not afraid and felt themselves worthy to accept the gift. How do we know? Because they went to check it out. They said, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”
They went on a journey to find Him, and when they found Him, they proclaimed what the angel had told them. Each of them, in his or her own way, confessed, “Here he is! Here is the Messiah! Here is the one who brings salvation to all, including me!”
So, if you’re asking if this gift is for you, the answer is YES! As the angel said, this gift is for ALL the people – no matter who you are or what you have done. You are worthy to receive the priceless gift of salvation that God has offered to all humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Do you know why God created us? Because He needed somebody to love. And in His Infinite Love for each and every one of us, He sent us this priceless gift with no strings attached just because He wants us all to be filled with joy and peace.
But we can’t have that joy and peace until we accept the Christ because Christ is who we really are. We are a Beam of God’s own Light – not these bodies, not these personal selves. That’s good news!
God sent Jesus to be Christ’s representative – so that we can finally see who we really are face-to-face. Jesus went to the cross willingly to show us that who we really are can never die, so we don’t have anything to fear, and we don’t have any reason to feel ashamed.
When we go on a journey to find the Christ, we must take the road that leads us to the stable of our hearts, not to the inn of our minds. The inn of our minds – the inn-tellect – is where we think we know who we are, where all our ideas about ourselves are lodged – so there is no room up here. It’s up here where ideas like, “I’m not worthy!” come from.
When we quiet our minds and open our hearts, we can feel the Unconditional Love of Our Father – and this Love is literally who we are in Christ. This Love is the Creative Power of God. When we accept the Christ, we become an extension of God’s Love, Peace, and Joy.
So, if you are one of those who has been hesitant or has even refused to open the package – to go within and check out the wondrous gift inside your own heart – let this Christmas be the one where you release your fears and doubts about your worth and finally accept God’s Bundle of Joy.
And if you’re one of those who has already accepted the gift, let your Love, Peace, and Joy shine so that others might ask, “Hey – where’d you get all that holiday cheer?”
You can start by telling them that it didn’t come from Amazon.
Let’s pray together: Lord, this season as we once again celebrate your birth, help us to open our hearts even wider to fully accept the Truth of who we are and to be the Gift that we have received through You. Amen.
Amodeo, John. “5 Reasons Why Receiving is Harder than Giving.” Psychology Today, 12 Feb. 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intimacy-path-toward-spirituality/201402/5-reasons-why-receiving-is-harder-giving.
Heath, Olivia. “Amazon Christmas Advert 2019: Festive Singing Boxes Return in Heartwarming Ad.” housebeautiful.com, 5 Nov. 2019, www.housebeautiful.com/uk/lifestyle/a24634544/amazon-christmas-advert/