This week we continue our advent celebration. Each week, four prior to Christmas Eve, we gather to light a candle and consider the coming of our savior. It is a wonderful time to stop in the midst of the season and truly focus on the reason for all the wonderful merriment of Christmas. This week is JOY.
My kids are old and my Christmas’s are forever changed. Now that the kids are 21 & 24 Christmas is not the same. No more squeals as they rush to the tree Christmas morning and find the new bike Santa left. Oh, they will get nice things and they will be thankful, but there is just something delightful that is the result of a child receiving their perfect gift.
One year our son asked Santa for a turtle. Inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle craze, he asked for a real live turtle. It was one of the few things he specifically asked Santa for, so I set about trying ot make his “dream come true”. At first it may sound like a simple, even inexpensive, gift request…but it is not.
In the summer and spring, box turtles could be easily found in the nearby woods, but mid winter was NOT a good time to go turtle hunting. I scoured every pet shop in town for a turtle. Here’s a tid bit of information that may surprise you as it did me…it is not legal to sell a turtle less than 4 in diameter due to the high instance of salmonella in juvenile species. As a result, many pet shops did not sell turtles. I eventually found one pet shop offering a live turtle for sell. Not your average box turtle, it was some special kind from Japan and super expensive! I did want to fulfill my son’s Christmas request, but not enough to pay that much for a fancy turtle.
It took three weeks, numerous phone calls and an hour-long drive before I found a shop that could sell me a box turtle. That simple box turtle, which ordinarily I could have found free in our back yard, cost me over twenty dollars and a tremendous amount of time and effort. It was worth it all when our son came down the stairs Christmas morning and found his requested turtle in an aquarium under the tree. He named him Michelangelo.
I wanted to let our son know how difficult it had been to get him this gift. I wanted him to know how much it cost in terms of time and money. I wanted him to understand the cost meant this was no ordinary box turtle.
The reality was that he would not have understood the cost. While he was old enough to have a grasp of certain matters of money, he was not old enough to understand the price of time and effort. Just locating a live turtle in December was a small miracle. This turtle cost much more than the price paid at the pet shop. I knew he could not comprehend the cost, but I relished the joy in my son’s eyes when he saw the turtle under the tree.
This week of advent we stop to consider the joy of our Savior’s birth. The birth of Jesus would eventually lead to His death and resurrection. Through Him we are given the greatest gift of all, grace. We are given unearned favor and forgivness for our sin. It is God’s gift to all people. It is a gift whose cost we cannot comprehend. It is a gift that is the seed of joy in every believer’s heart.
Ephesians 2:4-8 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us together with Christ, …for by grace you have been saved through faith.
This is the news of great joy, that we are saved by His grace and mercy and have the hope of eternal life and forgiveness of our sins through our savior Jesus Christ, a gift with a cost we cannot comprehend!
Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of a great JOY which shall be for ALL the people…