The Special Ingredient

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

(John 3:16, NIV)

If you are looking for gift ideas this Christmas, you might consider maple syrup. We often made maple syrup growing up on the farm in rural Ontario, Canada.

Late in the winter we would work our way through the snow to tap dozens of maple trees. Dad would thoughtfully select a healthy maple and take his old-fashioned hand drill to bore a small hole in its trunk. A thin metal spout would then be gently yet firmly tapped into place.

At the bottom of the spout rested a hook which was to hold a bucket for catching the tree sap. Drop-by-drop the sap would trickle down the spout into the bucket. On a good day of milder weather the buckets would nearly overflow, ready to be gathered in larger four-gallon-sized containers.

Over several weeks these containers of sap would be hand carried and set next to the boiler until we had collected at least forty gallons. It took forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

The boiling process demanded laboring all night long. The wood had to be chopped, the fire stoked, the drossy foam skimmed, and at just the right time the pan would be cooled for filtration and portioning the golden-brown syrup into glass jars.

Good, old homemade maple syrup makes a choice gift because it all boils down to that special ingredient of hard work and meticulous care all wrapped in love.

Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

God demonstrated His own love in the birth of His Son, Jesus. The humble babe swaddled in the lowly manger who would pour out His life as a loving sacrifice on the cross for our sins!

This Christmas let the special ingredient of loving care point us upward to God’s ultimate love in Jesus—the highest gift to receive, share, and celebrate.