The Days Were Accomplished
One of my favorite Christmas movies is A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd. The film is presented in a series of vignettes with narration provided by the adult Ralphie Parker reminiscing on one particular Christmas when he was nine years old. The only thing that he wanted for Christmas was a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 - shot Range Model air rifle. And of course, everyone around him kept saying to him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
While telling the story, the movie winds its tale around other vignettes which young Ralphie experienced in his usual day to day, nine-year-old life. Finally it brings us to the scene where Ralphie is in bed on Christmas night with the gun by his side. The adult Ralphie narrates that this was the best present he had ever received or would ever receive.
This is a movie that is usually in great demand this time of year because it contains all of the ingredients of a great Christmas story. Someone’s longing for a special gift, the struggle involved in realizing the arrival of such a gift and the knowledge that the one(s) who gave the gift are filled with the joy of giving, they’re all in this story.
I believe so many people embrace this story as their favorite because they can identify with it so well. Do you remember that moment in your own life? If you had to, what would you say is the “best present you have ever received or will ever receive?”
Jean Shepherd is not the only person to write such a story. In fact, our text this evening is one. As we get into the second chapter of Luke it is as though Luke himself is the narrator of the story. However, the childhood memories he shares are not related to his own childhood but that of Jesus. In just one Chapter Luke conveys just three experiences from Jesus’ childhood, the story of his birth, his presentation at the temple and the celebration of the Passover when he was twelve. It took the movie over 1 1/2 hours to tell Ralphie’s story. Why was Luke able to tell Jesus’ story in just one chapter? Maybe its because all of the ingredients of a great Christmas story is found in these three childhood experiences. There was the longing for this special gift as evidenced by the words of the Prophet Isaiah. In , , , , . By the time of Jesus’ birth, the people were longing for this coming Messiah. Faced with the oppression of the Roman occupying forces, they looked expectantly for one who would come to cast off the shackles of bondage and set them free.
When you stop and think about it, that doesn’t seem very different from where we find ourselves today. The whole world is in termoil and and longing for Peace. Isaiah reminds us in chapter 9:6, “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Luke also conveyed the fact that there was a great struggle on the part of many to realize that the gift they longed for had come. As the Gospel of John reminds us, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
The final ingredient of a great Christmas story is included here as well and that is the joy that the one who is giving the gift receives from do so. reminds us, “For God so loved the world that God gave God’s one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but, that through Him the world might be saved.”
That is why we gather here tonight because God has given us not only a great Christmas Story but the Perfect Christmas Story. In the birth of Jesus, God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us so that we might understand what it means to be fully human. You see, God did not create humanity to be only human. God created humanity to be fully human. From the moment that sin entered into the world,l humanity became something less that what God created us to be. Because of the best Christmas gift the world has ever known, the very Son of God, Jesus, who was fully human and fully God opened the door to restore humanity to what God intended.
So, on this Christmas Eve we gather in the warmth and glow of the moment and we acknowledge that the days have been accomplished. God has fulfilled God’s Promises. God has interrupted time and space to redeem God’s very good creation, humanity. We like Ralphie and every other human being who has ever lived are able to proclaim, that night we received the best Christmas gift we have ever received or ever would receive, only this gift was not temporary and relegated to past memories. This gift is a very present reality and it is for all eternity. Indeed the days are accomplished and his name is Jesus.