It's A Wonderful Life - Treasure It!

Christmas Eve 

John 1:1-14    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Christmas of 1980 was a special Christmas in my family.  We knew that it would be my grandmother’s last.  And everyone wanted to give her something special.  We all wanted to make her wishes come true.  

It was an extravagant Christmas that year.  She got all the things she had dreamed of.  

There was a plush velour rose-colored blanket.  It would have been perfect if it could have been a rose-colored velour electric blanket, but I think the heating elements would have melted that old velour material, so it wasn’t a choice.  

There was an exquisitely beautiful doll.  Yes, this one was a bit childish.  But you need to understand that she didn’t come from the kind of family who could afford to buy their children beautiful dolls or much of anything else, so this dream was a very old one.  And the best gift of all that year was a rain lamp.

Do you know what a rain lamp is?  They were kind of popular in the 70’s.  Somebody said they were the equivalent of the lava lamp for older folks.  A rain lamp is a tall, cylindrical shaped lamp with a Greek goddess in the middle, surrounded by these wires running from top to bottom, all around the goddess.  You turn on the light and it starts a pump inside that sends oil dripping down the wires.  It is supposed to create the effect of rain.  Some people thought they were elegant.  Others thought they were tacky.  It’s a matter of taste.  To my grandmother it was beautiful.  

We loved her so much; we tried to give her everything she wanted.  Have you ever felt like that?

We all have felt that way – when we wanted nothing more than to fulfill the hopes and dreams of those we love.  

This season, we’ve followed the story of George Bailey of Bedford Falls, and all his dreams and desires, his glories and his disappointments.  All his life, George was looking for his happiness somewhere else.  Wanting so much to leave Bedford Falls and have a real adventure, but every time his plans were foiled.  George couldn’t understand why it always had to be such a struggle, why he always had to be waiting for his life to begin.  But while we watched, we have seen something he couldn’t – that all the love, all the goodness, all the living was going on right there all the time.  

One dark night in December when George thought he had lost everything, he lost his hope as well.  George thought there was nothing for him this Christmas, and that he had nothing to give anyone else – absolutely nothing.

But George didn’t count on the love that had been accumulating for him over all those years, like interest in a bank account.  He didn’t know that the years of struggle had born fruit all around him.  He didn’t know that there was a whole town full of people who loved him and wanted to give him everything he needed.  

It was the most blessed Christmas George had ever known.  In that darkest night the light shone, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The story of George Bailey is but a reflection of the story that draws us together every year on this night.  It is a story of a people who dreamed of salvation.  The treasure they sought was a land of promise, a land of milk and honey where they might live in peace.  

It is a story of a people who dreamed of a savior – one who would break the chains of slavery; relieve them from oppression and war and hunger.  

It is the story of a man and a woman who on this night held simple dreams – a dream of finding shelter and the safe delivery of their child.  They sought to be faithful to God’s design for their lives, to honor the treasure they had been given, if not to understand it.  

In the darkness of that night so long ago, these two people were being watched over and cared for and loved, by a God who wants to fulfill the dream – 

The dream of peace; the dream of a world where all people are fed and safe; the dream of a world where love reigns supreme.

You and I share this dream.  We often get distracted by lesser dreams – anything from our own personal drone to a rain lamp.  But deep in our hearts we treasure a greater dream – a dream of a wonderful life ruled by love.  Let us not lose sight of this dream, no matter how dark the night.  

 

No matter how dark the night, the light shines.  And the darkness will not overcome it.

 

Verses

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

Deuteronomy 6:5