December 20, 2004
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. -Luke 2:6-7
We are all going to be celebrating a very special birthday this week—our Lord’s. There are so many ways we could do that…through song and worship, sharing gifts with others, or simply spending time with the people God has blessed you with.
It is a wonderful time to be sharing in love, laughter, and gifts with family and friends. And there’s so much about Christmas that belongs to children. Jesus was once a baby who cried, grew up, and lived just like you and me. But the real meaning of Christmas is that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16).
Do you believe that God loves everyone in this old world? Sure you do…because the Bible says so. During the month of November each year, our church puts together boxes filled with Christmas gifts for boys and girls all over the world. We send trucks filled with boxes to children, many who have experienced war, famine, and bloodshed, in different countries—all so we can show them Christ’s love.
There is a story that a friend of mine once told me. He works directly with an organization who heads this up and he told of a trip a few years ago to Bosnia. He had the opportunity to speak to a group of fourth graders there in their school classroom, and told them of the true meaning of Christmas. They spent 30 minutes talking about why Jesus came.
After passing out presents to the children, each one carefully unwrapped his or her gift and kept everything—even the wrapping paper! He described a look of joy in their eyes as they pulled each small present out of the shoebox. Through the interpreter, he asked what the boys got in their box, and they replied instantly, “Everything! Everything!”
The boxes sent out each year filled with small toys are some of the only gifts these impoverished children will ever see. And we live in a country where there is much trouble, yet we have never known missiles or bombs to threaten our homes and lives, war, or the heartache and intensity of their problems. Today, I’m thinking about another box—a manger—that carried a precious gift over 2,000 years ago.
It was a box that was used to feed the cattle…just a simple box. But when Mary gave birth to Jesus, they wrapped Him in a beautiful cloth and laid the holy God in a manger. Everything was in that box! God’s love, life everlasting, forgiveness, hope, mercy—everything that God could give He gave to us in Jesus Christ. And we are called to open the box and invite Jesus into our hearts and follow Him all the days of our lives.
ON THAT SILENT NIGHT IN BETHLEHEM, GOD HIMSELF LAY BUNDLED
IN A TINY BOX, WAITING TO BE RECEIVED AS A GIFT BY ALL MANKIND