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The ravages of love

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For God so loved the world…(John 3:16).

Tomorrow is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. The theme of the Sunday, and the days leading up to Christmas, is love. Above all else, Christmas is an expression of the extravagant love of God. There is perhaps no verse in the Bible that is as well known as our text for today. The verse goes on to say that the expression of God’s love was that “he sent his one and only Son.”

One of my favorite Christmas stories was written at the turn of twentieth century. The author was named William Porter, but most know his pen name better: O. Henry. The story tells of a poor young couple in New York City on Christmas Eve. Each wants to buy the other a Christmas gift that expresses their deep love. The problem is that neither has the money to buy what they want to give the other.

Della wants to buy Jim a platinum watch chain for his heirloom gold pocket watch. But she only has $1.87. Jim wants to buy Della the set of beautiful tortoise combs that she has been longingly looking at in the store window to go in her flowing, long hair. But he does not have enough to buy them.

The twist in the story comes as Jim walks in the door on Christmas Eve with his gift for Della. He is stunned to see all her beautiful hair chopped off. She has sold it to buy Jim his gift. Porter refers to the moment as the “ravages made by generosity added to love.”

After the initial shock, Jim gives Della her gift. She opens the package to find the beautiful combs. She then gives Jim his gift. As he opens it we are told he falls on the couch laughing. It is the platinum chain for his watch. He then reveals to Della that he sold the watch to buy the combs!

The story ends with the two sitting on the couch holding each other. It is a great picture of extravagant love.

When I read the story I cannot help but think of how Christmas is a time when we remember God’s extravagant love. Not only in giving his Son at Christmas, but by looking at the Son thirty-three years later. As we see Jesus mocked, scourged, and crucified, these words should come to our mind: “the ravages made by generosity added to love.” Christmas is about love. Good Friday is about love. Easter Sunday is about love. And one day, the return of the King will be about love.

Love to all this Christmas!

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