Once upon a time a young man and a young woman were very much in love, but they were very poor. After they had paid the rent, and the heating bills, and bought their groceries, and paid their bus fares, they had only just enough to live on, and they couldn’t afford proper winter coats, so waiting at the bus stop they were often cold. And the winter was getting colder for soon it would be Christmas.
One day, the girl was in the town looking in the shop windows when she saw a gold watch chain, and she just knew that the young man would love it. She so wanted to give it to him for Christmas, but she had no money. How could she buy it for him? She walked sadly away, and then she had an idea. She went to the hairdresser's shop, and had all her long golden hair cut off. The man in the shop put it in a bag for her and she went home and sold it on the Internet to someone who made wigs from real hair. With the money safely in her bank account she went back and bought the watch chain.
She knew the young man would love the present because he had a beautiful gold pocket watch that had belonged to his grandfather, whom he was very fond of. The watch had been given to his grandfather when he retired from working on the railway, and it was the young man’s most precious possession. The chain would be just right for it. She hurried home excitedly, looking forward to giving him her surprise gift on Christmas morning.
The young man had gone to town as well, to meet up with his mates and go to the rugby. On his way back from the match he saw in the corner of his eye something that made him stop and look in a shop window. There was the most beautiful pair of hair clasps, made of gold and set with precious stones. They would look amazing in the young woman’s beautiful long hair, which he knew was the thing which most of all made her feel good about herself. He wanted so much to buy them for her for Christmas, but the hair clasps were far too expensive. What could he do? Then he noticed a sign in the shop window, ‘We buy your gold.’ So he hurried home, and found his treasured watch and exchanged it for the hair clasps. He couldn't wait to give them to the young woman on Christmas morning.
But that night, when they got in for tea, he saw that the young woman’s hair was now cut short. He showed her the hair clasps, and told her he loved her so much that he had sold his grandfather’s pocket watch in order to buy them for her as a gift to make her long hair look even more special. Then she told him she also loved him so much that she had bought a gold chain for his grandfather’s watch.
They could have been very sad. It could have spoiled Christmas for them, but instead they laughed for they realised that they had each given away something really precious to them in order to show how much they loved one another. And their love was what really mattered. In time the young woman’s hair would grow again, and if they paid a deposit and then worked very hard, in a few months they might save enough money to buy back the watch. But what they had given each other this Christmas gift was the most wonderful gift of all, their love.
In the Christmas story, the most wonderful gift isn’t the treasures brought to the baby Jesus by the wise men. It isn’t the lamb that might have been brought by the shepherds. It’s that God sent his one and only son so that by believing in him everyone can have a meaningful and satisfying life.
God didn’t go to the trouble of sending his son just to point the finger, and tell us what a mess we’re making of the world; he sent Jesus to put things right again by choosing to die for us on the Cross.
His love is a light to live by. That light blazes out even in the deepest darkness, and the darkness has never been able to put it out.