All I Want For Christmas – Unexpected Love

Luke 2:10 – “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most unexpected news ever announced and it is for everyone.”
I’ll never forget the first time a sweet little lady came to my door to wish me a happy birthday. It was 1990 and I had just started in Rosemount as full-time ordained clergy. Not only had she remembered my birthday, but she brought me a gift of homemade bread to celebrate. I pulled the bread out of the ziplock bag and it was no ordinary bread. It was in the shape of a bear with eyes, ears, and even a belly button. It looked almost too good to eat. It was a tremendous unexpected gift of love.
Pastor Charlie, my Senior Pastor and friend, walked by my desk later that day. “Oh, I see you got a loaf of ‘Bonnie’s Bear Bread’. It is the best bread because it is baked with love.” Charlie was right. It was some of the best bread I had ever eaten. My daughter Bekah liked it because the little paws of the body were just the right size for her to eat.
Later on that summer, this same bread woman offered to babysit our children for FREE. As  young parents with a one year old and a three year old it was a blessing to even get out to McDonalds once a week. That was a big adventure to pack up the kids and enjoy happy meals with Ronald in the playland (back in the day when they still had the ball pits). Now this new friend in our lives gave us a gift certificate for real food, at a real restaurant without the kids.  Talk about unexpected love. We were overwhelmed. Deb’s response was: “Can we leave right now or do we have to schedule a special time?”
Maybe you know a Christian servant like Bonnie. Bonnie is a person filled with God’s love. She loves Jesus so much she shares His love in tangible ways everywhere she goes. She doesn’t need to sign up for a church outreach event. She is an outreach team on her own.
Have you ever received a gift of unexpected love? Have you ever shared an act of unexpected love with someone else? Today’s Scripture reminds us Jesus came as a form of God’s love on earth. The shepherds and others were surprised by the coming of the Messiah in such a manner. Jesus reminded them and us the heart of God is filled with love. At a time when the people thought the Messiah would come in the form of a powerful soldier, He came instead as the Prince of Peace. When they thought Christ should be an anointed king, He revealed Himself as a humble servant. Jesus shared unexpected love instead of expected rules which helped people to remember the God of Abraham, Moses, and David as a loving God.    
I don’t know why, but I am always amazed by God’s love and grace. I don’t deserve it and yet God gives it freely. I mess up time and time again and yet God forgives me. I am blessed to come to church every week and receive a healthy dose of God’s love through worship and the community of Christ. I am so frequently blessed by doses of God’s unexpected love. By the way, Bonnie stopped in again yesterday on my birthday. Every year it still seems to hit me as unexpected surprise when Bonnie shows up with her bear bread on my birthday. Instead of Bekah it is now my grandson who likes to eat the bear’s little paws.
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn