All the Best Gifts (Christmas Story, Part 1)

       A wise person once said, "All the best gifts involve an element of surprise."  Actually, that wise person was my pastor, and  the occasion was yesterday's Christmas Eve Service.

He went on to remind us of Ralphie, the little boy we all know from A Christmas Story.  All he wanted that Christmas long ago was a  BB gun.  No, an "official Red Ryder carbine action 200-range-shot model air rifle."  Please?  Nah.  "You'll shoot your eye out."

      Well, as most of us know, Ralphie DID get his rifle.  But not before he opened every gift under the tree first, and felt the utter disappointment that every child feels when their most beloved toy is not found under the tree.  His father saved his special gift for later in the day, when he was least expecting it.  The thing he had been hoping for, even expecting, turned out to be a big surprise.  That made it even more special.  The surprise.

       Yesterday in church I listened to the familiar Christmas story once again.  But this year we were reminded that everything about the Christmas story was surprising.  We've heard it so many times now that we may forget just how surprising and unexpected it all was.  God came to live among us, when the people least expected it.  He did this in a very surprising way.  He became a baby!  Oh, and there was the whole virgin thing?  Big surprise. Then where is he born?  In a stable with animals and hay and dirt all around.  The first birth announcement was delivered to dirty, smelly shepherds, not to the rich and powerful

       These are the thoughts I am thinking tonight.  I am seeing so many pictures today of friends and family, all with extended families, together for Christmas.  My family of six is here in Illinois, away from our extended families.  It feels like I am missing something.  And I am, I suppose.  But as Christmas Day comes to a close, I find joy in all of the surprises of Christmases past.  Little ones now grown.  Loved ones no longer here.  We have had such good times.  We will have many more to come.

Merry Christmas Everyone

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