All major appliances wear out. You hope the dishwasher or clothes dryer will last several years, and you may even purchase a service agreement to protect against costly repairs. There is a limit, though, to what such a contract will cover, and repeated use will eventually wear out any machine. Usually some clue will alert you when an appliance has reached the limit of its useful lifespan. The dishes are not getting very clean or the clothes are taking forever (it seems) to dry. At that point, you may need to retire the machine and replace it with a new one.
The hunt for a replacement often involves considering several factors: cost, features, and reviews by others who purchased the same unit. Eventually, you decide on the model to get, and you make the purchase, perhaps wondering how long it will last before you need to repeat the process yet again. (As you may guess, the process is what Linda and I went through this year, not just once but three times with three major appliances.)
As we approach the celebration of Christmas, it is with an appreciation that the message of the holiday, no matter how often we repeat it, never wears out. The proclamation of the angel to the shepherds, no matter how often we hear it, remains good news today.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord.
He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood,
having obtained eternal redemption.
In other words, we celebrate many times what only happened one time. That, of course, is the nature of birthdays: They mark repeatedly a unique occurrence—a particular person's entry into this world. The difference in Jesus' case, however, is that, unlike other birthdays, his birthday also marks a unique accomplishment—the salvation of that same world. Moreover, this singular accomplishment has had repercussions for people throughout history, even before his advent (as "the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world" Rev 13:8). No one else has ever had such a pervasive and permanent affect.
Unlike major appliances, all of which wear out at some point, Jesus' atonement, which his birthday portends, never wears out. Moreover, "he always lives to intercede for [us]" (Heb 7:25), an additional benefit we can experience all year. May the joy of his advent and the abiding effect of his atonement enhance your appreciation of the season. As the heavenly host declared that evening, "Glory to God in the highest."
Pastor and Linda