Christmas often stirs controversy, surrounded by excesses of spending, indulgence, and debates over its date. Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, it holds profound significance—a day to honour and reflect on the birth of our Lord and Saviour. It’s a time to marvel at God’s boundless love, as He embraced humanity to offer salvation. Amidst the chaos, having an annual pause to ponder the profound impact of Jesus’s birth is invaluable.
Allow me to share two Christmas tales: one filled with light-heartedness and another that delves deeper into contemplation.
“Funny you should say that!”
Solly sent his son on a business trip to Jerusalem and he came back a Christian. Distraught, he goes to Abe, tells him the story and asks for advice.
Abe replies: “Funny you should say that, I sent my son to Jerusalem and he became a Christian, let’s ask Hymie.”
They tell Hymie the story and he replies: “Funny you should say that, I sent my son to Jerusalem and he became a Christian too, let’s ask the Rabbi.”
They tell Rabbi the story and he replies: “Funny you should say that, I sent my son to Jerusalem and he became a Christian too, let’s ask God.”
They go in prayer to God, tell Him the story and He relies: “Funny you should say that…” – (John 1:11)
God loves you
When Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible was first being printed, the floor of the shop was littered with scraps of paper from the proof sheets. Luther tells how the printer’s little daughter, while playing among the presses, picked up one of these scraps; on it, she read these nine words of Scripture: “For God so loved the world that He gave…”
As the girl thought about these words, she felt happy, and the more she thought about them, the happier she became. In the days that followed, the mother noticed the change in her daughter and asked her the source of her new-found contentment. Putting her hand into her apron pocket, the girl produced the piece of crumpled paper. Her mother read it and exclaimed, “But what does it mean? ‘For God so loved the world that He gave…’ What was it that He gave?” Perplexed for a moment the child replied, “I don’t know what it was that He gave, but if He loved us well enough to give us anything, why then we needn’t be afraid anymore.”
The little girl was right; to know that one lives within the realm of God’s eternal love is never again to be afraid; it is to be persuaded that neither death, nor life … nor any other creature shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39)
May this serve as your wellspring of inspiration during this Christmas season and as we step into the promising new year of 2024!
(Both are excerpts from Gerald England and Richard Gordon’s “Parables for Preachers,” a monthly resource letter for pastors.)