Summary: Our heavenly Father has given us the ultimate present – The greatest gift of all.

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Christmas is an exciting time and little Sammy was excited. He was 15 years old and Christmas was still to him a time of wonder. He was a happy child despite his handicap. You see Sammy was slightly mentally retarded. He still went to school, though he was 2 years behind. And he did the things that most boys do; he played ball, road his bike, fished, climbed trees and other fun stuff. For the most part the kids were not too mean; sometimes they laughed and called him "simple Sammy", but Sammy just didn’t seem to hear them. He just enjoyed life, every part of it; to him life was full of wonder and amazement. And Christmas was the most wonderful time of all.

It was Christmas Eve, and both the sky and the ground were white with snow. And it was 8 PM, time to go to church for the annual Christmas Eve Celebration. Sammy could hardly wait. He was so excited wondering what present would be under the tree for him this year. Last year he got a telescope.

Every year on Christmas Eve after the service all the children would gather around the huge Christmas tree and each one was handed a present, with their name on it. Even though Sammy was a little old for this, they still let him take part.

Sammy’s parents left early that night because his mother was singing a solo, "Silent Night", and she wanted to practice. They were the first to arrive at church. When his dad opened the door, well, you can guess where Sammy went; that’s right…at the speed of light he went right to the Christmas tree and started to look for the present with his name of it.

After a few minutes, he began to worry because he couldn’t find it. Then his eyes caught hold of a big box -- the biggest present that was there. He slowly walked over to it, lifted the card and there in great big letters was his name "S-a-m-m-y." He couldn’t believe it, the biggest present was his, and his mind began thinking at the speed of light of all the many possibilities of what was inside. Maybe it was a bike, a TV, a horse, a tent? What was in it? Sammy could barely stand it, but he knew he had to wait.

Sammy really did enjoy the service; really, but he kind of thought that 3 days was just a little too long. Well, at least that is how long it seemed to him. Finally, it was over and all the children rushed to the huge tree. Sammy’s pastor, Preacher Joe, started picking up presents and calling out names - Sarah, Bobby, Susan…Sammy was on the edge of his seat. He was about to burst with anticipation.

Then, Preacher Joe walked over to the big box and said, "Well, let’s see whose name is on this one." Before he could read the name, Sammy bolted beside him and said, "It’s mine Preacher Joe". "So it is," Joe replied. Sammy took the box and gently took off the bow. His heart was racing like a jackhammer. His mom and dad stood beside him smiling, enjoying their son’s excitement.

Sammy removed all the paper and laid it beside the box. Then he began to remove the lid. In his mind all of the things he hoped to see flashed before his eyes in a second. Finally, Sammy got the box open and he looked inside and saw...Nothing. He saw nothing. The box was empty. Someone had played a trick on simple Sammy. When Sammy lifted his head, huge tears were streaming down his face. Who would do something so cruel? Who would play such a mean trick on simple Sammy?

Everyday, all around the world, this same trick is being played. Though the names and situation are a little different the results are still the same. Our world promises people great gifts: happiness, wealth, pleasure, relationships, fame, success and power. And it wraps them up in a great big box, with pretty paper and a beautiful bow. And it hands us this box as a gift. We get excited and we take off the bow. We unwrap the box and open it with great expectations.... And when we look inside, just like Sammy all we find is an empty box. No hope, no life, no joy, no happiness; just huge tears of heartbreak streaming down our face. That is the kind of gift this world gives us. Have you ever opened one of her boxes? I think you have and it’s not fun is it?

Notice if you please, over 2,000 years ago in a Judean field an angel from God said to several terrified shepherds: ”Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”

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