Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
I was about 11 years old when I spotted it. We were at the mall. And there she was, Mandy, the giant stuffed panda bear. I loved pandas. But back in the early 80’s, and for a family of 6, $80 was a lot of money. I didn’t even ask for it. Just adored her from a distance.
I was thinking about what a surprise baby Jesus must have been. There were prophets mentioning His coming for years. No one knew when, where or how. And then, there He was. Born of a young virgin. Surprise! The savior of the world was lying in a manger among animals.
A few days after the mall visit, my dad surprised me with Mandy the panda. My parents took a picture of my face at the time, it was of utter shock! I loved that panda and I still have it. My own kids have enjoyed snuggling up with Mandy. Even as a child, I knew what a sacrificial gift she was, it was a lot of money. And it was just for me.
I wonder if people realized while they looked at baby Jesus that He would eventually be the ultimate sacrifice for everyone. He was a beautiful surprise present. A gift of hope, peace and love. But he would grow up and be tortured for our sins. I think the most precious gifts come with some sort of sacrifice.
And that is what makes us appreciate those gifts the most. Knowing that someone gave up something in order to give. Just like the panda I still treasure today. (Thanks Dad!) We should make it a point to treasure Jesus, our priceless gift that saved our souls. Let’s prepare our hearts this month to appreciate that and show others the same sacrificial giving.
Dear God, thank you for your most wonderful gift…Jesus! Thank you for the sacrifice He paid for each one of us. Help us to remember that love in our daily relationships. Amen