This is the story of Christmas Bear:
There was no question the large stuffed bear wearing Christmas attire was old with a 1995 ribbon on its foot. The volunteers at the Angel Tree Center put it in a bag for a family as an added bonus. A little while later the mom returned wondering why she got a used gift for her child. We exchanged the bear for other toys.
The 1995 ribbon was carefully cut off by one of the ladies and the rejected gift was placed as a decoration to greet everyone coming and going. Another mother came in with her little girl who beamed with a smile and dark black eyes.
Spying the bear she made a bee line for it. She wrapped the stuffed wonder in her arms and tried to pick it up falling to the floor laughing as it almost covered her. Mom came to her rescue as she continued to hold on while being lifted up. The room stopped for a moment as we watched and laughed about her excitement.
We got the other gifts for the family and I told the mom that the bear was going home with them. As they walked out the little girl skipped across the floor checking the treasure tucked under her mother’s arm as they exited the door.
I thought about that moment in comparison to how some try to keep Christ out of Christmas. How easily we can reject the most precious gift given to us, God’s Son, and replace it with toys, electronic gadgets and perfume.
To some the story over 2,000 years old does not fit our modern 21st Century thinking. In vain we try to fill the emptiness in our hearts and mask our selfish desires with food, drink and merriment during this “Happy Holiday.”
The real reason for the season is placed to the side like that bear. If you take a moment like that little girl rushing to that bear, however, and go 2,000 years ago to see a baby lying in a feeding trough in a stinky Bethlehem stable your heart will fill with wonder. That baby became a man, “God putting on skin,” and changed the course of history with his teachings on love, grace and mercy. He was executed but overcame death to show us the way back to God’s Kingdom.
The wonder of Christmas is that God loves us and is willing to forgive us of our sin and selfishness through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christmas is a reminder that there is a better way, having true joy covered in God’s mercy and grace by loving God first and then loving others as ourselves.
Don’t push Jesus away this season … wrap your heart around the greatest gift ever given! “O Come Let Us Adore Him … Christ The Lord!”
The Salvation Army