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Psalm 96: Praise to God Who Comes in Judgment

1 O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. 4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts. 9 Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 12 let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.

The readings for this week are the readings assigned for Christmas Eve.

The great gift God gives us that we receive on Christmas is a gift that may not be on our list of things we are requesting. But what a gift it is. A gift of salvation, peace and joy. The greatest gift ever given.

Have you ever received a gift that you didn’t expect? A gift that didn’t make your list, but when you received it, you were touched ever so deeply by not just the gift, but the thoughtfulness of the giver? Those gifts are special.

Has God given you what you have asked?

Sometimes our prayers become nothing more than the request made on Santa’s lap.

When our son was about 3 years old, we made the trek to the mall for the annual visit to Santa. Our son must have been hungry that day, because when Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he replied, “A peanut butter and jelly sandwich!” Believe me, there were some relieved parents that day.

He got his sandwich that Christmas.

I am sure you have heard the question asked several times recently, “What do you want for Christmas?”

What God provides us at Christmas is what we need, even if we don’t have it on our list.

God sends us a Savior.

The perfect gift.

It was that crazy time of year, with presents to be wrapped, places to go, people to see. Gertrude was trying to get everything done before it was too late. If she didn’t hurry, her granddaughter wouldn’t get the lovely lace and satin nightgown she had bought especially just for her. At the same time, there were the Christmas cards she wanted to mail out, and she definitely didn’t want to forget to send her friend, Hilda the thick wool socks she had knit for her. As she threw the gifts into their boxes to be mailed, Gertrude addressed them, put her return address on them, grabbed the cards and headed out the door.

She was glad to see a parking spot near the front door of the post office, and the line was not too long, at least not for the week before Christmas. She placed the parcels on the counter, and reached into her purse for her wallet to pay for the packages. The clerk swiped the presents and cards and placed them in the bins along the back wall. It was then that a strange feeling came over Gertrude – something was wrong. What was it? As she returned to her car, she tried to think of what was bothering her. She wracked her brain, but she couldn’t figure it out. She finally attributed it to the busyness of the season, and went back to work baking a batch of cookies for the neighbors.

As Gertrude slipped in to bed that night, as she was just about to doze off, it hit her – she realized what she had done – the gifts she had mailed were placed in the wrong packages. The lovely lace and satin nightgown she had bought for her granddaughter had been sent to Hilda. Hilda – plain, poor, simple, unadorned. Not the lace and satin type. Such a lovely nightgown almost seemed a mockery of Hilda’s plainness. And what was her granddaughter going to do with a pair of bulky wool socks? What would she do? What COULD she do? Gertrude did not sleep well that night.

A few days after Christmas, Gertrude received two letters in the mail. The first came from her granddaughter, thanking her for the fashionable ski socks – they would be perfect for her ski trip in January! That was a welcomed surprise for Gertrude. The second letter was from Hilda. Gertrude was afraid to open it. But what she read was another surprise. Hilda was incredibly grateful. No one had EVER thought to give Hilda something so beautiful. Hilda wrote that she put on the nightgown and danced across the rough, wooden floor, and said, for the first time in decades, she said, “I felt pretty.” It was the perfect gift!

So, what do YOU want for Christmas? God knows the perfect gift for us. Only the Word made flesh can point us to the love of God. Only God incarnate would show us God’s love for us. Celebrate the gift – the perfect gift – the babe, the Son of Mary!

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus

Let us Pray. We give you thanks, Almighty God, for the present of your presence, Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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