This Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Advent, the Sunday right before Christmas. The theme is love. SURPRISE! LOVE IS BORN!

Much of the preparation for the Feast of Christmas in this pandemic will be modified, changed, or all together cancelled this year. However, many will still decorate their homes, and seek that gift for someone special that will surprise them. One could say that is what God was doing for humanity that first Advent; giving the biggest “Surprise!” as “Love is Born!”

We often miss the message of this first Christmas surprise. Perhaps this true story can help us to see it more clearly this year.

Some years ago, under a cultural-exchange program, Alan Abramsky and his family in Roanoke, Texas, were hosts to a rabbi from Russia at Christmas time. They decided to introduce him to a culinary treat not available in his country: They took him to their favorite Chinese restaurant. Throughout the meal, the rabbi spoke excitedly about the wonders of North America in comparison to the bleak conditions in his homeland. When they had finished eating, the waiter brought the check and presented each of them with a small brass Christmas-tree ornament as a seasonal gift.

They all laughed when Abramsky’s father pointed out that the ornaments were stamped “Made in India.” But the laughter subsided when they saw that the rabbi was quietly crying. Concerned, Abramsky’s father asked the rabbi if he was offended because he’d been given a gift for a Christian holiday. He smiled, shook his head and said, “Nyet. I was shedding tears of joy to be in a wonderful country in which a Buddhist gives a Jew a Christmas gift made by a Hindu!” A time of miracles. A time for stories.

From time to time, we hear someone say, “Wouldn’t it be great if it could be Christmas all year long.” Surprise! That was God’s intent. There is only one thing that stands in the way of celebrating Christmas all year long. You and me.

Join us for worship this last Sunday before Christmas 2020, by Zoom or Facebook Livestream at 11:30 AM as we celebrate a “SURPRISE: LOVE IS BORN!” That is my sermon based on Psalms 89:1-4 and Luke 1:26-38.