Merry Christmas everyone; the day God surprised the world. The gift was not unexpected but the extent of it, the largeness of it, the generosity of the giver was certainly a surprise.
Israel was expecting their Messiah but they had no idea of God's full plan because they were a self-centered people. They always thought that their relationship with God was exclusive and for their own blessing. They never seemed to grasp God's purpose of raising them up as a nation of priests so that he could reveal his glory to all nations through them. They thought God was only for them, their personal protector and 'genie in the bottle' to meet their every need.
When Jesus explained his purpose to a leader of Israel late one night he did not tell him that "God so loved Israel". No, he told him that "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life". The "so loved the world" and "whoever believes" is what we are really celebrating this morning. It is an inclusive statement and we love our Father for it. Regardless of what gifts you have received today I will guarantee you no one has given you a gift like our Father has.
I repeat myself on this Christmas morning, the message of Christmas is not "peace on earth" but "For God so loved the world that he gave" and what he has given is himself. Jesus told us that if we choose to accept this gift we have the responsibility to tell everyone about it. Jesus gave himself to save us from our destruction and he came for the entire world. Maybe it is only the followers of Jesus who celebrate the true meaning of this celebration but the gift was intended for everyone.
As we celebrate and we practice that God spirit of generosity with those we love, let's keep in mind that the gift of Christmas is not exclusive but inclusive. Share it with your family and friends as you gather with them during this season. May your Christmas truly be a merry experience as you allow the joy of the Lord to overflow your heart.