Where’s the baby?
Evangelist Luis Palau tells of a wealthy European family that decided to have their newborn baby baptized in their enormous mansion. Dozens of guests were invited to the elaborate affair, and they all arrived dressed to the nines. After depositing their elegant wraps on a bed in an upstairs room, the guests were entertained royally.
Soon the time came for the main purpose of their gathering: the infant’s baptismal ceremony. But where was the baby? No one seemed to know. The child’s governess ran upstairs and returned with a desperate look on her face. Everyone searched frantically for the baby. Then someone recalled having seen him asleep on one of the beds. The baby was on a bed all right—buried beneath a pile of coats, jackets, and furs. The object of that day’s celebration had been forgotten, neglected, and nearly smothered.
The baby whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas is easily hidden beneath the piles of traditions and cultural observances of the season. We need to enter every Advent season asking, “Where’s the baby?” (More Perfect Illustrations)
“Long walk part of gift”
A woman missionary in the South Pacific Islands was explaining to a group of children the custom and significance of giving gifts at Christmas. “Giving gifts,” she said, “expresses love and reminds us of the perfect gift of love we received from God: Jesus.” Later that week, a young native boy came to the missionary’s side and said, “I love you and want you to have this.” He pulled from a straw basket the most beautiful shell the missionary had ever seen. As she admired its beauty, she recognized it as a special shell only found on the far side of the island, a half day’s walk from the village. When confronted by this, the boy smiled and said, “Long walk part of gift!”
God “walked” 2000 years with his people before sending the gift of Jesus. And he has walked 2000 more years expressing the significance of Him! (Source unknown)
Giving our best
Years ago, The Sunday School Times carried the account of a Christian school for the children of the “untouchables” in India prior to World War II. Each year the children received Christmas presents from children in England. The girls got a doll, and the boys a toy. On one occasion the doctor from a nearby mission hospital was asked to distribute the gifts. In the course of his visit, he told the youngsters about a village where the boys and girls had never even heard of Jesus. He suggested that maybe they would like to give them some of their old toys as presents. They liked the idea and readily agreed. A week later, the doctor returned to collect the gifts. The sight was unforgettable. One by one the children filed by and handed the doctor a doll or toy. To his great surprise, they all gave the new presents they had just received several days earlier. When he asked why, a girl spoke up, “Think what God did by giving us his only Son. Could we give him less than our best?” (Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, 159f.)
What Christmas is all about
And there were in the same country children keeping watch over their stockings by the fireplace. And, Lo! Father Christmas came upon them; and they were sore afraid. And Father Christmas said unto them: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people who can afford them. For unto you will be given great feasts of turkey, pudding and cake; and many presents, wrapped in bright paper, lying beneath a tree adorned with tinsel, coloured balls and lights. And suddenly, there will be with you a multitude of friends and relatives, praising you and saying, “Thankyou very much, it was just what I always wanted.’ And it shall come to pass as the relatives and friends have gone away into their own homes, the parents shall say to one another, “Oh Bother! What a mess to clean up! I’m tired, let’s go to bed and clear it up in the morning. Thank goodness, Christmas only comes once a year!” And they go with haste to bed, wondering what Christmas is really all about. (Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, adapted)
Our greatest need
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If your greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God, in his great love, sent us a Saviour.
Gift on the way
Are you behind with getting your Christmas cards sent off? If so, you will sympathise with the woman who rushed into the card shop just before Christmas, snapped up a packet of 50 identical cards, signed 49 of them, ran to the post office, and managed to get them into the last mail. It was only as she returned home that she looked more closely at the one remaining card in her hand. To her horror she discovered that the main text read:
This is just to say
A gift is on the way!
There were 49 disappointed people that Christmas!
But long before the first Christmas, God, through the prophets, had been sending out many such cards. Their message was always the same: ‘A gift is on the way!’
‘The virgin will be with child,’ they proclaimed, ‘and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel’ (Isaiah 7:14) – God with us! ‘For to us a child is born,’ they said, ‘to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). Rejoice! A gift is on the way!
And at the first Christmas there was no disappointment. As the day dawned, the gift arrived just as the prophets had said it would.
(General John Larsson, Salvation Army)