The scene takes place in heaven at the conclusion of a surprise birthday celebration for Jesus. Several heavenly luminaries have just treated Jesus to cake and ice cream. As the party breaks up, Jesus and the angel Gabriel are speaking to each other.
Gabriel: Well, that was nice. Were you surprised? We were so afraid you would know. After all, you know everything.
Jesus: Yes, I did have fun. And even if I did know, it was still nice. I will say Paul got on my last nerve referring to me as the “fullness of the Godhead bodily.” I admit it’s a catchy phrase, but after 50 times, even the profound runs a little thin.
Gabriel: Well, that’s Paul. It was that tenacity that made him such a great Apostle.
Jesus: I suppose you are right.
Gabriel: So, Moses and Elijah are picking teams to play some football. Do you want to go?
Jesus: No, I don’t think so. I think I will just sit here for a while and watch the celebration down on earth. I really love it when the children sing. Their little voices are so pure and lovely.
Gabriel: Are you OK? You seem a little down.
Jesus: Well, I guess I am, a little. This time of year always gets to me.
Gabriel: How come? It’s your day!
Jesus: I know, and that’s part of it. After all these many years, they still don’t get it.
Gabriel: You mean the folks on earth?
Jesus: Yes, I mean, think about it, how many times did I say do not store up treasures on earth. But they pursue material wealth like their lives depended on it. Instead of measuring life by the quality of their relationships, they measure their worth by who has the most stuff.
Gabriel: Yeah, I’ve noticed that, too.
Jesus: And, of course, that creates additional problems. They spend so much time and money on useless junk that they don’t have time or money left to help people that really need it. I told them repeatedly to take care of the poor. But they don’t. I was at a rescue mission the other day. There was a sign out front that read, “No one should go hungry at Christmas time.” I wanted to scream, “No one should go hungry any time!”
Gabriel: I know, I know.
Jesus: You know what they did this year? A bunch of them got into an argument about whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” A few folks nearly came to blows over it. And one year, just to keep it interesting, my birthday fell on a Sunday and hundreds of churches cancelled services. They knew attendance would be low so they just called it off. Can you believe that! They accuse department stores of taking Christ out of Christmas, but it’s the believers, the ones who are supposed to know the difference, who wouldn’t even go to church on my birthday.
Gabriel: But it’s not that way everywhere. Lots of people get it and get it right.
Jesus: I know. I was just hoping that by now, with so many people claiming to know me, that things would be different.
Gabriel: Well, maybe Christmas next year will be better. Come on, let’s go play football.
Jesus: Go on without me. I’ll be along in a minute. The children are singing “Joy to the World.”
James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church, Auburn, Ala.
A retired Baptist preacher living in Alabama. Over 35 years, he served churches in Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia. In support of his pastoral work, Evans published five books including “First and Second Corinthians: Immersion Bible Studies” (Abingdon Press (2011).