We sat on the floor in the middle of my son’s living room on Christmas morning, amid open boxes and scraps of torn wrapping paper. My grandsons, Eli and Josiah, laughed and played with new toys that had quickly become their favorites. Snatching Josiah into her lap as he danced across the floor in delight, my wife, Robin, hugged our youngest grandson and wished him, “Merry Christmas.”
Two-year-old Josiah responded emphatically ,with great concern in his voice. “No, Grandma. Don’t say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Say, ‘I love you.’” Like any loving Grandmother would do, she wrapped her arms around him and gladly complied.
I don’t know why he made that request. I suppose children love to hear those three words, especially from their Grandmas. Sounds of familiarity, perhaps. Sense of reassurance in a bewildering week, maybe. When you really consider the request, the simple truth is that Josiah proclaimed a simple truth.
Here’s what I mean. God set this world spinning and placed us in the middle of it. Declaring us the best of his creation. Brought us out of the dust of the earth to enter into relationship with him. It’s not that he didn’t love everything he made, but he loved us with a capital “L.” That’s why he grieved so much when we chose to live our lives in utter selfishness. That’s why he knew from the beginning that he would find a way to draw us back to him.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:16
But before he could give him, he had to send him…to a stable, in a manger, under the light of a Christmas star. To live life among us. To offer himself for us. To teach us, though his life, how we should live and love.
Josiah cut through the commercialism and captured the central connotation of Christmas. In what can often be the busiest, demanding and loneliest time of year, it’s somehow reassuring to know that “Merry Christmas” is just God’s way of saying, “I love you.”
So, Merry Christmas from…
the One sent.
the One sacrificed.
the One who became salvation.
He does love us so.