What night is this? What do we celebrate this night?
Whose birthday is it?
Yes, it’s Jesus’ birthday that we celebrate. Each year, on this night, we remember the birth of baby Jesus in that manger. We remember the star in the sky, and the angels singing, and the shepherds coming down from the hillside where they were with their sheep to see the remarkable thing that the angels told them about…a newborn Savior who would help all the people.
It’s like the angels invited those shepherds to a birthday party for baby Jesus, isn’t it?
Now, how many of you have had a birthday party this year?
And what happened at that birthday party? You played games, and ate a delicious birthday cake, and you got lots of presents. It was a lot of fun, wasn’t it? What was your favorite gift this past year?
We all love birthday parties, not least of all because we get presents.
So now we’re celebrating a birthday…but what happens tonight when you go to sleep?
Santa comes and brings you presents.
But wait a minute…it’s not YOUR birthday, is it?
It’s Jesus’ birthday. So how come we get the gifts? Shouldn’t baby Jesus get the gifts? Did we forget whose birthday it is?
I’m confused. So I need you to help me figure it out.
So here’s a question for you: why do you get a gift? Maybe it’s something you want, and you’ve been talking about it for a while. But do you think we get a gift because someone loves us and cares about us, and wants to give us something special to show that love?
And you will be getting gifts tonight, aren’t you? Santa will bring things because Santa loves you, and you may also get presents from other people who love you and want you to enjoy something fun. All gifts come to us because someone loves us and wants us to be happy.
But you are also getting another gift, this night and every Christmas, something that’s more important than a Wii game or an American Girl doll. What’s that gift?
It’s Jesus! That little baby, born over 2000 years ago, is the best gift ever. What did the angel said to the shepherds on that hillside: “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people, all the sad people, all the people who are poor, all the people who are without a job, all the people who are away from home serving in the armed forces, all the people who don’t have a home of their own. Here is why you should celebrate: this evening a baby was born, and he is a very special baby. He will be a Savior, an anointed one who will help all those who are suffering. You won’t find him in a great big palace, as you would expect for a King. No, you’ll find him in a stable, wrapped up to keep him nice and warm and snug, with animals around him to help him stay warm.”
And all of a sudden there were lots of angels singing, and of course the shepherds had to go check out this baby who was to be Lord of all.
And the shepherds went down to see him, and sure enough it was a tiny little baby in a stable. He didn’t really look like any other baby – no, there was a glow around him that made them feel like this was something extra special. The moment they saw him, they loved him, and they didn’t notice the cold of the night because they felt the warmth of his love coming right back at them! It was like he was a gift for them, spreading all that love to them.
Did those shepherds bring any presents to baby Jesus? It was his birth day, after all. But they didn’t have a place to make a birthday cake, and no stores were open that late at night.
What present could they bring him? Maybe some soft wool from one of the little lambs to keep the baby warm. Maybe a little cheese made from the milk of one of the sheep, even though Jesus was too little to eat cheese yet.
But I know one thing for certain.
Those shepherds brought Jesus their own love, and their belief in what the angel had said. They came to worship him, because they knew that he was God’s greatest gift to a troubled world.
So what would you like to give to Jesus as a birthday present?
How about being a good boy or girl? How about listening when mom or dad asks you to do something? How about saying a prayer every night before you go to bed, talking to Jesus about your day? How about being nice to someone who is sad? How about sharing your Christmas toys with your brother or sister?
Gifts don’t always come in boxes with colored paper and ribbons. Sometimes they are doing things that mean more than a toy. So this night, even while we’re all excited about the gifts that will be under the tree tomorrow morning, let’s think about gifts we can give the birthday boy, baby Jesus. The gifts that we give him don’t cost money. They are way more valuable than that. He is the best give to us, and he deserves our most wonderful gifts of love and caring and sharing in return.