December 29, 2009


Here is the text from my sermon entitled "Unwrapped" which I gave on 12/27 at our Castleton campus. Feel free to share any thoughts, comments or questions.


Well, here we are, a few days after another Advent season and Christmas day. Many of you had the chance to spend some time with family and friends, I hope you found it to be meaningful and enjoyable. Tai and I had a chance to make it up to Holland, MI to visit with my family and over to New Lisbon, IN to visit hers. We had a good time and were reminded of how blessed we truly are. Now, two days after Christmas, here we sit and if you’re anything like me, you begin to take inventory now that everything has been opened and unwrapped. I can usually break down my Christmas gifts into three categories: things on my list that I asked for and actually got (which sometimes end up not being as cool as I thought they would be); things I asked for but didn’t receive; and the third category of “thanks?!?”.

Now, I don’t know about your family but both of ours are notorious for using boxes from one thing to put another thing in, so you're not quite sure what you’re getting until you get it unwrapped and out of the box. The classic story of this from my family is when we were all at my grandparent’s house and all the aunts and uncles were opening their gifts from grandma and grandpa and my dad starts opening his…at the time, for whatever reason, my dad was really into bowling…so unwrapping his present he reveals a shoebox with a picture of what appears to be a very nice pair of bowling shoes on the front. My dad gets excited and says, “Whoa alright, new bowling shoes”…opens the box and says, “No, I got these...” as he lifts up the work light that I’m not sure he has ever actually used.

This kind of thing happens to us all the time doesn’t it, whether it’s Christmas or not? We picture something in a certain way, it's wrapped in shiny paper with a nice bow, then we get it out of the box and realize it’s not what we thought it would be.

Perhaps it’s a job or title or degree we think will make all the difference but once we get it unwrapped we find it falling short of our expectations. Or maybe your perfectly wrapped gift is to have a family that looks a certain way, but then your kids do something stupid, your parents do something hurtful, you or your spouse do something to hurt each other or maybe you’re not able to have a family at all. The list can go on and on of things we think will make everything perfect but once we get it unwrapped we find it isn’t what we had in mind.

And then we read of this gift...
Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 9:2-7

When we begin to unwrap the gift of God’s Son lying in a manger we see this is a gift that will not disappoint, not only this but we notice a couple things about this special gift…

It is a gift of His presence (Isaiah 43:1-3a)
-God promises to be present with us in the midst of the storms, trials and fires of life.

It is a gift of family (Galatians 3:23-4:7)
-God gives us the right to be called His children (John 1:12).
-You and I are connected as the family of God through the community of the Church.

It is a gift of hope (Hebrews 10:23-24)
-The gift of Jesus gives us hope in a world that can often seem hopeless.
-This is a gift we can and must share with others as we undoubtedly know people who abandoned, hopeless and alone.

Closing Prayer comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24:

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."