The Greatest Christmas Gift
by Mark Roberts, Kerrville, Texas
For God so loved the world... (John 3:16)
My daughter, Kara was born on November 4, 1994. By Christmas she was seven weeks old. Kara started smiling at me in mid-December. These were real smiles, not those newborn "I have gas" winces that parents like to call smiles. She would look at me and give me an obvious, genuine smile. I loved it.
The problem was that Kara wouldn't smile at my wife, Linda. Here was her mother, giving her life to Kara day and night, but Kara would only smile at me. To be honest, I think it bothered Linda somewhat. After all, it wasn't fair. No matter what Linda tried though -- cooing, smiling, laughing -- Kara would just look back at her mom as if she were bored with the whole thing.
Well, we got up early on Christmas morning for our family celebration. Linda got Kara out of her cradle, dressed her in a cute little Christmas outfit, and brought her into the family room. She sat Kara on her lap and greeted her: "Merry Christmas, Kara! Merry Christmas!" At this greeting Kara looked at Linda and smiled. It wasn't one of those little smiles I'd been getting. It was a giant, joyous, face-crinkling smile. "She's smiling," Linda shrieked with gladness. I ran over to check it out, and, sure enough, there was the biggest smile I'd ever seen on Kara's face. It was marvelous.
"Go get the camera," Linda ordered, and I went running. I figured the smile would be gone by the time I got back, but it was worth a try. In about 30 seconds I returned, and Kara was still beaming at Linda. I snapped a picture, and even then the smile kept on going and going.
This was a marvelous, miraculous moment. In my opinion, it was just about the best Christmas present ever. It didn't cost anything. It didn't come wrapped. There wasn't any card. But it gave more joy to my sweet wife than any gift she's ever received. In that moment Linda knew that Kara loved her, that she was special to this little girl. Linda's heart swelled, and so did mine. It was a precious moment.
So what was the greatest Christmas present ever? Well, if you're talking about my family, it would have to be the smile Kara gave to Linda on Christmas morning, 1994.
Of course, it clearly doesn't compare with God's gift to us: His own Son, Jesus. Yet, though it doesn't compare, it does relate. Even as Kara's smile was the best Christmas present ever for my wife Linda, so you have the chance this day to give the precious gifts of love to others. What could your smile mean to someone today?
Perhaps as we think about the greatest gift of all, we could imitate the greatest Gift Giver of all. Look around you and see if there are people whom you can love today. Offer words of kindness. Maybe even a word of apology or forgiveness. Look into the eyes of somebody you love, and smile: with your face, your words, and your heart. Say "I love you" and mean it. Who knows? Maybe this is the gift somebody in your life needs most of all today.
As those involved in worship ministry, maybe we can offer more than our songs and our music this Christmas. Could we genuinely love those around us in tangible ways? That is, after all, what God did in sending Jesus.
1. Besides Jesus, what's the greatest Christmas gift you've ever been involved with - giving or receiving?
2. Be intentional this weekend to show others in your congregation love and acceptance through words and body language. Discuss what this might look like for those of you involved in worship ministry.
3. Come back next week and discuss what happened.