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What Jesus Wants For Christmas: Think Big
December 24, 1995

Management was discussing Harry. Harry produces five times more than the other salesmen. They wondered why Harry is so successful. Harry isn't smarter. Harry doesn't work five times harder than the rest; in fact, he takes more time off than the others. Harry isn't any better educated, he isn't any better looking, he isn't any more outgoing than the rest. What is the difference between Harry and the others? Harry thinks five times bigger! Success is determined not by the size of one's brain or personality or opportunities; success is determined by the size of one's thinking.

John Wesley thought big. "The world is my parish," said the founder of Methodism. Jesus thought big, Matthew 28:19, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations... Go into all the world. The birth of Jesus was a big event. Even the cosmos participated. A star pointed the way, angels appeared and sang. Isaiah thought big. We have been hearing Bert Roper read from the magnificent Isaiah passages this Advent season. What big visions Isaiah had for the world.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy... Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads... sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

He is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.

What Jesus wants for Christmas is for his people to Think big! What do you think of your church? What do you think of your family? What do you think of yourself? What are your goals? Someone said, "He made so much out of so little. We make so little out of so much." Consider television. What a wonder is the invention of television! There are some magnificent programs, but what about all the junk. Some talk shows try to outdo each other showing filth and degradation. Where do they get those people who will say anything to get on television? When the hermit writer, Henry Thoreau, was told of the laying of the transatlantic cable which caused quite a stir providing instant communication between Europe and America, Thoreau replied, "Yes, it's wonderful, but probably the first news that comes over will be that Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough." What would Thoreau say if he could see what comes over the wondrous invention of television! We make so little out of so much.

Think big! When Barbara Stevenson, our Administrative Secretary, read this sermon title, she said, "I hope Ralph thinks big when he buys me jewelry for Christmas!" Somehow, I don't think jewelry is what Jesus has in mind. I believe what Jesus wants for Christmas is for you to think big about yourself, your family, your church, and your mission. Away with puny, insignificant, measly little visions! Let's see some Isaiah visions! The noted philosopher/politician Disraeli said, "Life is too short to be little."

Think big! I have three questions to ask you this morning. 1) How big is your God? Is your god some puny, weak figment of your imagination? Or, is your God the creator of the universes, creator of the galaxies? Is your God the One who spoke and called creation into being? Does your God make mistakes, or is your life one of God's crowning achievements? Is your God bigger than your problems, bigger than setbacks, bigger than failure? Did your God create you so you might ruin your body, deprive your mind, stifle your imagination, and waste your resources? Or, are you a child of the God who calls his creation good, who redeems you with the love of Jesus, and powers you with the Holy Spirit?

2) How big is your faith? Can you move mountains with your faith? Is your faith big enough not to sell yourself short? Is your faith big enough for you to see yourself a successful, competent, courageous, loving disciple of Jesus Christ? Is your faith big enough to see yourself not only as you are but as you can be? Can you see yourself five/ten years from now? What kind of goals are you setting? Remember, the important thing is not where you were or where you are, but where you want to be. Is your faith big enough to believe the impossible?

Is your faith big enough to eliminate from your vocabulary: it's impossible, it can't be done, I'll give it a try but I don't think it'll work, I'm too old, I'm too young, I'm a loser.

Substitute instead (repeat after me):

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I don't see problems, I see opportunities.

I expect to succeed.

I'm a winner.

It's better to wear out than to rust out.

I'm going to live until I die.

I am a child of God.

I'm having fun!

Is your faith big enough to believe that your church will not settle for mediocrity, but will continue to expand our ministry and be the best church for Jesus we can be? Do you believe we will leap in faith, and succeed? How big is your faith?

3) How big is your embrace? With a big God and a big faith, how big is your embrace? Is your embrace big enough to include all of your life with all its challenges? We enjoy receiving Christmas letters. Charlie writes a humorous one. This year he shared how he embraces getting older.

When I first noticed Christmas items in the store I knew it would soon be Halloween and time to start remembering if anything interesting happened to us in '95. This is harder than it used to be. Six weeks ago I lost my car keys in the house and haven't found them. About a month ago I went shopping and forgot where I put the car... I still go to the fitness center three times a week but it is getting harder. I've been thinking about hiring someone to go for me. If you think I am living a better life it is because I haven't the strength to break any of the Commandments.

We received an inspiring Christmas letter from a friend and former parishioner in Palo Alto. Bart was a caregiver to his mother for many years, and now he is a caregiver for his wife. His wife, who was a brilliant woman, has Alzheimer's disease. She is unable to do anything for herself. He can't leave her alone. Besides that, one of their daughters is fighting cancer. She had surgery and chemotherapy, and now begins radiation treatment. Bart had the option to think small this Christmas and engage in some self-pity. But, no, Bart chose to think big. Listen to his Christmas greeting.

Even with all our current problems, life continues positive rather than punitive, happy rather than heartsick, forward looking rather than backwards wishing... May similar love and support be yours during the coming year just as the birth of Jesus symbolized, nay, actualized the coming of God's love into this world we share!

Think big! How big is your embrace? Can you embrace your life and live it to its fullest? One of our members who continues to inspire me is Helen Schneider. When Helen began losing her sight and hearing, she could have chosen to think small. She could have retreated into a fetus position, felt sorry for herself, complained, whined, and shrivel up waiting to die. But not Helen. She chose to embrace her sight and hearing handicaps, and think big. She and Foxy take daily walks. She teaches Sunday School and plays the piano. She loves the children and the children obviously adore her. She is in church every Sunday, sitting in the back row. She sits in the back row, not because she is shy or is embarrassed; she sits in the back row because she has discovered she hears better there. She bakes the best cookies you have ever eaten. While baking one day, she burned something and told me that at least once a day, she breaks down and cries. But, she doesn't let the frustration stop her. She cries to release her frustration, then picks herself up, and goes on. Helen is an example for all of us. Helen Schneider embraces her life and thinks big!

What Jesus wants for Christmas is for his people to think big! With a big God, a big faith, a big embrace, the world is our parish, the cosmos is our orchestra, the angels our choir, and the Christ-child our heart. THINK BIG!

© 1995 Douglas I. Norris