Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Perfect Gift was Laid in a Manger Bringing Hope and Forgiveness to a Lost World

On Sunday, we shared a Chinese meal at a popular restaurant with our dear friends before they went their separate ways for Christmas. After dinner, we took turns opening our fortune cookies and sharing out loud the good advice and bits of wisdom inside:  “Procrastination is fear of success” and “Find a peaceful place where you can make plans for the future” were a couple of them.

Every table was full; and by the time we left, people were standing in line waiting to get inside. The lack of English speaking skills and the décor reminded me of the classic “Christmas Story” where Ralphie and his mother have an ongoing battle over his wanting a rifle for Christmas. “You’ll shoot you’re eye out,” she warns him, and eventually he almost does.

After having their Christmas turkey devoured by a pack of neighborhood dogs, the family ends up in a Chinese restaurant for dinner. The Asian staff tries to cheer them by singing: “Deck the Hars with Boughs of Horry – rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah rah rah rah”

The laughter afterward brings the family around to seeing the brighter side of every situation. Perfect families and picture perfect Christmas’s don’t exist except in the pages of Better Homes and Gardens or in the homes of Martha Stewart wanna’ be’s. So we need to grasp what joy we can and accept the rest: the torn Christmas wrappings piled on the floor, the store-bought pies, the scorched gravy and lumpy potatoes.

That first Christmas wasn’t perfect either. The straw was prickly, the stench of cattle surrounded the manger and the birth pangs were painful and real. But on that night, the hope of the world was born and unconditional love was wrapped in swaddling clothes when God became flesh. Forgiveness and mercy were given a name “and you shall call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.”

The chasm between God and man was narrowed for “Christ the Lord was born.” From that point forward, faith bridged the gap that separated us from God; and fear and hopelessness were banished forever by “the light which shines in darkness.”

Merry Christmas everybody and a Happy New Year!