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Tis the season

I always look forward to the annual issue of the Christmas stamps. Perhaps it’s the little philatelist in me, or perhaps the memory, now denied, of the privileged taste of adhesive gum. Perhaps it’s the little Pavlov’s dog in me, associating the stamps with the arrival of presents.

My first memory of a Christmas stamp was a blue one with a denominational value of five cents. Forty-seven years later, one can hardly grumble at the modest increase to sixty-five cents. But the Christmas message has not suffered the same forces of inflation. It doesn’t need to. Its wealth holds its value year upon year. Rich salvation for every poor soul who looks to Jesus. Generous grace for all who entrust their heart to him.

Philately is such an interesting concept. The word itself is rich in meaning, with the root idea of receiving something exempt from duties and taxes, and with the result that someone else pays the price so that a gift can freely be received. How apt. For this is exactly the Christian Gospel.  God pays the price. The Cradle leads to the Cross. The gift of life is given with love, and received by faith.

How unfortunate then that in 1967, the twenty-five cent companion to that blue five-cent Christmas stamp, bore a yin-yang symbol on the centre of the Cross. For the Cross is not about balancing our good and bad, but about cancelling our bad, and receiving the good that comes from above. The Christmas message is not about merit. It’s about grace, and the glory of a God who loves us deeply.

DM 25th November 2014


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