Christmas day 2013
I’ve got something with me this morning to show you, but I want you to guess what it might be.
- It’s something you only get at Christmas.
- It's colourful and fun.
- You might have it on your table at Christmas dinner.
Show the cracker.
It is, of course, a Christmas cracker.
But this is no ordinary cracker.
This is a Christmas cracker with a tale to tell!!
In order to tell this tale I'm going to need two fairly strong volunteers.
Pull the cracker.
Look inside and pull out the joke
Does anyone know what might be on this simple piece of paper?
Does anyone know a cracker joke they'd like to share?
How about There were 2 snowmen in a field, one turns to the other and says, “can you smell carrots?”
Or What sort of pizza does good King Wenceslas like? Deep pan, crisp and even.
Or What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinsell-itis!
So how does this cracker joke tell us anything about Christmas?
Well the joke is meant to make us laugh.
And the laughter represents joy; the joy that Jesus brings to the world.
The joy of His love and care for us all.
On the other side of the piece of paper is something else. A fact, or a factoid to be more precise. This also has a part in the Christmas tale.
This factoid represents the facts of Christmas.
The fact that Jesus was born to ordinary people in an ordinary place.
The fact that his first visitors were outsiders; shepherds from the hills outside town.
The fact that wise men from a far off land saw signs of a new King and followed a star.
The fact that Jesus was born, lived and died as told in The Bible.
Facts that we celebrate today.
What else can we find in the cracker?
A hat or possibly, a crown! A Crown for a king. But which King? There are three in the Christmas tale.
First there are the three Kings who travelled across continents to visit Jesus with presents for a king.
Second there is King Herod who tried to stop the story in its tracks.
Third there is the new born King;
Jesus the King of Kings.
The king to save us all.
Jesus the King whose kingdom we pray in the Lord's Prayer to see come on Earth.
It seems like this cracker has given us enough doesn’t it.
And yet there's something else in this cracker.
Does anyone know what it might be?
We get a gift.
And in this cracker, to be honest, it’s not the greatest gift ever is it?
But it does have something to tell us about Christmas.
Yes, even this piece of plastic has something to tell us about Christmas.
This is a free gift and at Christmas we celebrate another free gift.
In fact we celebrate the best free gift ever.
This is the gift of Jesus himself.
The best present we could ever receive.
And how do we receive this fabulous free gift?
We just have to ask,
Jesus, can we be your friend, part of your family?
And the answer is always, let me repeat that, always, yes!
Jesus wants to be our friend,
And not just at Christmas.
This free gift of Jesus is always available;
no limited time offer;
no buy a gift and get this one free,
no buy now and pay in twenty four months’ time.
Jesus is the gift given for every single one of us every single day for free.
So what is this gift called Jesus?
Jesus is God come to earth to live as a man.
Jesus lived a human life with all its frailty and suffering and mistakes.
Jesus knows what it is to be in a family, to be a child, to grow up, to toil, to care, to live as one of us.
Jesus knows life's ups and downs; its joys and sorrows
Jesus understands us completely.
That has to be the best gift ever.
To be a friend of Jesus who completely knows what we are on about, because he lived it too.
When we wish we could take back the stupid thing we said in the playground.
To be side by side with Jesus when we feel alone or scared or lost, as he was sometimes.
When we are ill or grieving or lonely or just plain confused about what is happening in life.
To be loved by Jesus who knows we makes mistakes and wants to help us when we do.
When we miss the Christmas deadline at work, or forget to buy a present in time to post to great aunt maud, or insult a friend who thinks the Christmas jumper looks amazing.
But even more than that……
To be known by Jesus and guided by Him every time we ask.
Today, tomorrow and every day of this year and every year to come.
So when you go home and sit at your table with the crackers remember what it's all about.
Jesus the free gift.
Jesus with no expiry date.
Jesus the king who is always available.
Jesus beside us every day, the good ones and the bad.