Summary: Jesus was God’s wonderful gift to us - how will you react to that Gift
Field Dalling/ Saxlingham
Christmas Eve 2002
Receiving a wonderful gift.
Story: The son of a wealthy man expected to receive a sports car for his graduation.
Instead his Dad called him into his study told him that he loved him and handed him a wrapped-up present.
When he opened it, he found it to be a box containing a leather bound Bible, with his name inscribed on the spine.
Angrily the young man tossed the box on his father’s desk and stormed out saying: with “With all your money, all you can give me is a Bible!”
And they never spoke again, despite the fact
that the young man’s father tried hard to
Years later, he got a call to say his Dad had died, leaving him everything.
As he was going through his father’s belongings, he found that Bible still in its box.
Curious, he took the Bible out of the box and opened it. The page fell open at a passage his father had marked. And as he looked at the page, he noticed that his Dad had underlined Mt. 7:11,
“ If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father give what is good to those who ask Him. “
And as he read it, a car key fell from inside the Bible.
It had a tag with the dealer’s name on it – for the sports car that he had wanted years earlier.
On the tag beside his graduation date we the words: “Paid in full love Dad.” (Word for Today sat Sept. 7th 2002).
Our Gospel reading is all about a wonderful gift that God had for Mary - a wonderful gift of a baby boy.
But receiving it wasn’t as simple as that, because Mary wasn’t married. And in those days – that was a serious problem.
We often don’t appreciate what courage it took, on Mary’s part , to agree to bring Jesus into the world.
In Mary’s mind there would have been three very real fears – each of which begins with the letter S.
the first was getting stoned,
the second was being set aside and
the third was the stigma of illegitimacy.
1. She could have been stoned
Having a child out of wedlock in Jewish society in that day was a capital offence. You could be stoned for it.
The Old Testament prescribed stoning for an adulteress.
It was very much like the Sharia Law in certain Islamic Countries – like Saudi Arabia - today.
2. She could have been set aside
Mary risked losing her fiancé, Joseph, who would naturally think that she had been sleeping around.
It was very easy at that stage for Joseph to have abandoned her to her fate as an unmarried mother. And there was no welfare state in those days for single mothers.
3. She could have given Jesus the stigma of illegitimacy
And her son would have the stigma of illegitimacy – a horrible birthright in those days.
So as we read the story of the Angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will conceive and bear a son – Jesus, let us not forget how brave and courageous Mary was when she said:
“Here I am, the Servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”
As we look forward to Christmas 2003, let us reflect that God gave us a wonderful gift in a stable in Bethlehem about 2000 years ago -
“A Saviour who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11)
Jesus, God’s Son came into the world to
reconcile man to God. He died on a Cross-to
take the penalty of our sins – so that we could once again become “children of God” (Jn 1:12)
What is your reaction going to be to God’s wonderful gift to us this Christmas?
Are you going to turn away from it just as the young man turned away from his father’s gift – and lose out on the wonderful present.
Or are you going gratefully receive that gift – just as Mary did in our Gospel story. The choice is yours.
Let me leave you with a verse from St. John’s Gospel.
“But to as many as received him, he gave them the right to become sons of God, to those who believe in his Name, he gave the right to become children of God- children not born of natural descent nor of human decision but born of God.” (Jn 1:12