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Sunday, 21 October 2012

It's all relative!

At the Worship Service, this morning, we were reminded that Christmas isn't too far away, and that it was time to start thinking about filling decorated shoe-boxes for the Samaritan's Purse annual "Operation Christmas Child" appeal.  As an introduction, we watched a video-clip that showed some of the previous work of this particular ministry (you may watch it at http://www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk/).

The interesting thing, to me, was that none of the boxes contained iPads, mobile 'phones, radio-controlled space-ships, or Buzz Lightyears!  Rather, the gifts that brought such obvious joy to the recipients were items such as a pair of sun-glasses (and some "crazy" sunglasses!); a scarf; a "Pull 'n Go" car; a pair of mitts; and similar "low-cost" gifts.

Of course, it's all relative!  In spite of the effects of the ongoing recession in the UK, and the "austerity" measures put in place by the Coalition Government, many children will have an inordinate amount spent on them for the mid-winter festival (which, to most of them is all that it will be!  The one thing missing from Christmas will be the Christ!).  The children who receive those shoe-boxes have so little to start with that those simple gifts are received with true gratitude, and an infectious excitement.

In Dr Luke's account of the Gospel he records an occasion on which the Lord Jesus had been invited to the home of a Pharisee.  While He was there, "a woman of the city" brought an alabaster jar of ointment with which she anointed the feet of the Lord, having wet them with her tears of repentance, and wiped them with her hair (which if, as is implied, she was a prostitute, would have been long and hanging loose).  Simon, the Pharisee, was quite shocked - thinking to himself that if Jesus really was a prophet, He would have known what sort of woman was touching Him!

Of course, Jesus knew exactly what the Pharisee was thinking, and told him a story - a parable about two men who owed differing sums of money to the same creditor.  One owed a fairly trifling sum; the other owed a large amount.  When neither could pay, the creditor let both of them off!  Jesus' question to Simon was simple: "Now which of them will love him more?" (Luke 7:42; RSV).  Simon wasn't a stupid man.  He knew the answer: "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." (v.43).  Jesus drew the parallel with the woman and the Pharisee, and told Simon that "... her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much ; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." (v.47).

It's all to do with appreciation.  I hope that many who read this post will get involved in "Operation Christmas Child".  Those who receive your gifts will receive much pleasure from them - because they have so little.  I hope that all who read this post will recognise the debt of gratitude each one of us has to the Saviour Who came to pay the penalty for our sin.  I trust that we will all bow, not only at the crib of the Christ-child, but also before the Christ of the cross.  Nothing that we can ever give to Him can match what He has given to, and done for, us.



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