Something happened to me that is extraordinarily kind. When Carol and I were in Washington DC we met up with a friend who lives in the area, and promised to bring his wife and daughters to meet us if we ever visited. Well, he arranged a marvelous meal at a restaurant overlooking the floodlit Capitol Building and later took us (in heavy rain) to climb the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials.
But at the beginning of the evening meal something special happened. He presented me with a gift. A small blue box wrapped in celophane with a blue bow. It felt so light I wondered what it could be. I could never have guessed. When he visited the Guntenberg Museum in Mainz he had see the "smallest book ever published." It is minute, less than 4x4 mm. Each page contains engraved print, with hand-binding in leather and gold embossing on the front. Its tiny pages have the Lord's Prayer in seven different languages! It belongs within a tiny glass box, which opens to reveal a magnifying glass - which you really need. You can imagine - I was utterly entranced. When he visited the museum he had bought one for himself, and another to give to a friend. I couldn't believe his generosity (and it is expensive) and the sheer surprise of the gift.
As we left the restaurant, piling into his car to begin our nocturnal drive through Washington, I marveled at his kindness. After a few moments, I felt in my pocket for the little box....and found it wasn't there. With panic I checked all my pockets, the floor, the seat. With dismay I stuttered to my host and donor that I must have left the gift in the restaurant. How could I have done? I remembered it still on the table....we called the restaurant. They checked the table. No it had gone. I felt so miserable. My friend who had given it to me was obviously upset. Everyone was upset. In fact, Carol said it spoilt the whole evening. She was right.
Well, yesterday a package arrived. As a cardboard box it felt so light. Opening it, I found it was from my friend. In bubble wrap was another precious little blue box! Originally, he had purchased one more and, in spite of my carelessness, he was willing to give me a second one. How extraordinary is that? When I called him I said that the smallest book in the world was now even more precious because it reminded me of forgiveness and grace that has gone the second mile. I am truly grateful. It's a wonderful unusual gift that I shall treasure not only for itself, but for its representation of double kindness - extravagant grace.
When God breaks through into our world in the vulnerable baby Jesus, we know this is the most special and precious gift of love imaginable. Yet, too often we go on living in ways that just don't deserve the gift. We really are an undeserving lot, time and time again. Yet God goes on giving his best of love in spite of us......kindness upon kindness. That's grace!