One More Christmas Gift (2nd Christmas A)
"One More Christmas Gift"
2nd Sunday After Christmas (Year A)
January 5, 2020
Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a (NRSV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.
Today is the 12th Day of Christmas. Most of us are used to receiving Christmas gifts on December 25, or even on the 24th, Christmas Eve. But today, on January 5, we read about another present God has in store for us. Today we prepare to receive one more Christmas gift.
Ephesians 1:17-19a - I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.
What does it mean to receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation? When the eyes of our hearts are enlightened, we know the hope that God has called us to. We know the glorious inheritance of the saints. We know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us.
These are precious gifts of confidence in God’s goodness. They are gifts of courage in the face of evil and despair. They are gifts of boldness to share the Good News of Jesus, to shine Light into our dark world.
The spirit of wisdom and revelation allows us to know the hope we are called to. Knowing Christian hope is important. If we don’t know what we hope for, what we believe, what difference it makes that we are Christians, then why would anyone want to join us?
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
So what is that hope? What is it that we stand for as Christians? Why are we here in church and why does it matter? Why do we need this spirit of wisdom and revelation?
The answer is simple. It’s Jesus. God is Love and God became a human being named Jesus. If you can remember those simple truths then you have what it takes to be an evangelist. You have what it takes to share the Good News with people around you.
Every single member of the church is called to share the Good News. We all promise to do that when we are baptized. Every time we witness a baptism we renew that promise. It’s not just the job of preachers or deacons or priests or bishops. Every single one of you is also a minister of the Gospel. You are also called and empowered by Jesus with a spirit of wisdom and revelation. You have received this gift too. You share the hope of glory, the Good News of love for the world.
You can tell others about Jesus, and more often than not, you will be more persuasive than I can be. People expect priests to tell them about Jesus. They expect someone in a collar to be sold out for Jesus. People put pastors on pedestals and imagine that we are super-religious people that can do superhuman feats of righteousness. (Of course, that’s not true.)
But you, laypeople, are powerful. You’re like stealth agents for Jesus. You get to surprise people with the depth of your faith and hope. You get to share the Good News of Jesus with no strings attached. Your witness is powerful because it is unencumbered, unforced, freely given. being quiet or shy about our faith. But our faith is really awesome. We don’t need to hide our light under a basket. We want the world to know how great it is to know and love Jesus, and we want to do so with gentleness and respect.
As a priest and a preacher, my job is not to do all the evangelism for you. I can’t talk to every single one of your friends and family members and convince them to love Jesus and come to St. Matthew’s. But you might be able to. So my job, my calling as an ordained minister is to equip you, the rest of the church, with the tools you need to evangelize, to share God’s Good News. So I’m challenging myself to do a little better at this. To help equip you, I’m going to try to tell the whole story of Jesus in slightly different words in every sermon. So every week you’re going to hear a version of the Good News, of the hope God has called us to, so you have something to share with others.
Today I kept it simple: God is Love and God became a human being named Jesus. Love is here with us.
God’s gift for us today is a spirit of wisdom and revelation. That’s our gift this Christmas and indeed for all of 2020. How will we at St. Matthew’s receive that gift? How are we going to know the hope that is in us? And how will we share that hope with our family, friends, and neighbors? God is Love and God became a human being named Jesus. It’s just that simple. Amen.