But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4Ė5

This ranks up there as one of the more unusual and memorable Christmases I have experienced with my family.†A sudden and debilitating illness to my mother-in-law eleven days before Christmas ended with watching her take her last breath the morning of Christmas Eve.†Plans to visit our children were replaced by their visits to us to say goodbye to their grandmother. We are together at Christmas, but not where and why we planned to be.†

We rejoice that our blessed mother and grandmother has now fully received her adoption as a daughter of God. She now fully enjoys the salvation the Christ Child was born to bring to all the faithful.† And she was faithful to the end.

What a blessing it was to learn to humbly and joyfully learn to receive.† More was done for my family than we could ever repay.† And that is the whole point. To receive what you cannot repay is a blessing, not easily experienced, but fully in line with Godís plans for us.† It was at first difficult to say yes to every offer of help and assistance, every plate of food, and every unreturnable gift. We cannot thank our dear friends in faith nearly enough.

So my prayer is that you too will know the blessing of receiving that which you cannot return or pay back.† Christ was born to give us the gift we cannot pay for and we dare not return. For why would we refuse the grace that covers our transgressions and forgives our iniquity? We cannot earn it even if we tried.

That is what makes Jesus the King and Savior worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. That is what makes him worthy as our example to follow as we in turn give to one another the gifts that cannot be paid back. We thank Him for that gift, and you our fellow saints, for putting flesh and blood on that present with your selfless love.

Tom Konz is the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church.††