I have some friends that I love very much. Last week I received a package from them. It was a pleasant surprise, one that I value. Apparently my friends love me as much as I love them.

Christmas is like that. The baby in the feed trough is a tangible manifestation of God’s love (John 3:16). It’s how we know God loves us. The gift my friends sent — it’s how I know my friends love me.

Christmas is scary. A single mom, impregnated by the Holy Spirit, a fiance who is skeptical at best. Sounds more like a reality show than a “God-Thing.”

Christmas is good. The prophet (Isaiah 9:6) said Christmas is “Wonderful” and if you don’t like to get good stuff from someone who loves you then something is wrong. But this good and wonderful Gift does come with a string attached and that is you have to love the Giver.

In Luke 2 we are told that while the pregnant couple were in Bethlehem that the time came for Jesus to be born … a time comes for all of us to acknowledge do we love the Gift and the Giver, or not so much?

I like that my friends took time to pick out the gifts in my package. They meticulously wrapped the package. They included a card taped to the outside, then took it to one of my favorite places — the USPS. They paid to ship it, insure it and tracked the package all in the name of love. That’s what God did and in a sense, He now waits for the package to be believed.

It’s a responsibility to accept the Gift, and like it did for Mary, it can create pain … the road is hard and few find it, but those that do experience great joy in growing a relationship with the Gift.

We had our annual kid’s Christmas program this last Sunday and it was the old school type with shepherds and angels. When the kids that portrayed Mary and Joseph got to the manger scene they sat down and then as the narrator shared that the baby was born, Mary all of a sudden pulled a baby doll out of nowhere. We wished birth was like that. My point is it’s hard to hang with Jesus. What matters is at the end of the day,

He loves us regardless of our “rule” violations and He loved us enough to take on flesh and live as we did and so, He gets it. He has been there and done that and so He understands pain, difficult relationships and loneliness.

It did not end at Christmas for Him, Easter came and He broke the death barrier. He freed us from the slavery of sin and returned home where He waits for us, like a parent waiting on their child to return home from school.

One of my friends who sent the gift loves writer John Donne. He probably said it best when he wrote, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Do you hear the Christmas bells? They ring for you. He asked me to ask you that.

 

Ken Ansell serves as a pastor in a small central Texas rural community. He is a local missionary and he fly fishes when he can.