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On Christmas Day a small manger scene sat on a table just inside the doorway to a neatly kept home. People hurried past it all day. They barely noticed tiny figures gathered around the infant tucked in the straw. In the morning children raced by it on their way to the Christmas tree. At noon, arriving guests pushed past it to get to the dining room. One accidentally knocked over a shepherd as he took off his winter coat.

Later in the afternoon a well-fed group of adults and children moved somewhat slowly by the manger again as they drifted from the dining room back to the living room. Almost none of them stopped to look at the manger. In fact, none of them even noticed it, except two.

An elderly woman, walking with a cane, paused in front of the scene. Gently she set the shepherd back in an upright position. Then she looked at the Christ child in the middle of all the figures. As she stood there, she became aware of her small grandson standing by her side. As the voices drifted in from the living room, the two continued to look at the manger scene.

At length a smile spread across the woman’s face and the child took her hand. In the midst of a day filled with so much busyness, the two of them quietly received God’s gift.

Today we come face to face with a mind-boggling idea and story. It’s a story that is almost incomprehensible in its simplicity and truth. It’s a story that is, in itself, a gift.

It’s a gift wrapped with the most exquisite paper imaginable, a bundle of swaddling clothes. This gift was left for each of us, under the tree of life nearly 2,000 years ago by Him whose birthday we celebrate today.

This gift has been offered to everyone. Some have left their packages unclaimed. Others have graciously accepted the gift and carry it around everywhere they go. Unfortunately, they’ve failed to begin unwrapping and discovering the hidden splendor and grace of God’s love.

Each package has a scroll addressed to each of us individually, on which is written, “I love you!” and it is signed: God.

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