By Rev. Matthew Ricks

Rocky Mount Christian Church

My dad retired early from General Electric quite a few years ago. Ever since that time, his main job has been finding new ways to entertain himself. In other words, I never know what new hobby my father is going to pick up. About 11 years ago, my wife and I bought a house in Roanoke. I found that one of my dad’s hobbies was house advising. He told us which ones to steer clear of and which ones to give another look. Once we had purchased a house, I discovered another one of his hobbies.

One day, I was sitting in my office at the church and my dad called, asking if he could go over to my house for a while. I was too busy to investigate what he was up to, so I just said, “Go for it!” When I got home that afternoon, there were holes all over my front and back yard, covered back over with a tuft of grass. I had forgotten that dad’s newest hobby was hunting for treasure with his metal detector.

By the looks of things, he had worked my yard over pretty good. It looked like a golf driving range. Curious, I called him to inquire what he had found. As it turns out, he unearthed a lot of valuables: a bucket of nails and screws (our house had just been remodeled), a rusty screwdriver and a broken watch. I could only assume that he was disappointed in his haul considering the time and effort he’d put into digging in my lawn. Nope. He was pleased as he could be with himself. What can I say? My dad is lovable, albeit eccentric.

I thought about dad’s expedition through my yard this week as I was getting ready for Christmas. This is just a guess, but this is how I like to think about Christmas: the birth of Christ was God’s way of starting to dig around the world, salvaging all the torn and tattered folks with no hope. Most of the people don’t appear to be worth saving, but God delights in every son and daughter that returns to him through the birth of Christ. We see junk, God sees a precious gem.

Christmas, as one commentary that I was reading put it, is God’s greatest search and rescue mission. God sends his only begotten son to start searching for all the lost and hurting souls. That is exactly what Jesus would end up doing with his ministry. He would travel far and wide just to let people know the depth of God’s love for them. Like my dad with his metal detector, Christ went out searching for what he could find. Jesus is still finding lost treasure today, in you and in me.

Matthew 1 tells us about the humble beginnings of this search and rescue operation God had long been planning. I hope this scripture brings great joy to you this Advent and Christmas season!

Matthew 1:18-21 (NRSV) 18 Now, the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

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