I remember my first and last Teddy Bear. I asked, no pleaded for a big brown bear for Christmas. As the weeks counted down we would visit toy shops with a host of furry bears, crying out “take me home, love me.” I would lie awake and dream of all the cool games me and Ted would play, the adventures we would go on. Christmas Eve finally arrived and this small boy was beside himself, unable to sleep. Waking early on Christmas morning I saw a woolly head poking out of my pillowcase stocking at the foot of my bed. Pale brown glass eyes watched me with a button nose and a turned up little smile. Ted, my Ted would be my best mate for years to come. We went everywhere, into the garden, out in the car, we’d sit in front of the fire and eat meals together. A few years later Ted was appearing to lose his good looks, one eye went walk about, his stuffing went flat, and his velvety hands were black with grime, but we were best pals and pals stick together.
I found Ted in the attic recently. Forgotten beneath old blankets and toys. His glassy brown eyes shone in the dim light of a 60 W bulb and his face seemed to ask “do you remember me?” I picked him up, studied his limp frame and smiled thinking about our first Christmas 50 years ago. I thought about the power and blindness of a child’s love, seeing beyond form, loving despite flaws and blemishes.
On these two truths I reflect on this Christmas. The first is that we are all raggedy teddy bears, flawed and flattened just from living life with its rough and tumble, its ups and downs, sins of omission and commission. The second truth is that God loves each and every one of us. We were not created raggedy but each of us in turn have found our way into a darkened attic, somewhat beaten up and often forgotten. But raggedness does not mean unlovely to God. On that very first Christmas Jesus saw us down through the centuries and said “mine”. The power of that love has brought wonderful restoration to our lives and a promise of perfection. C S Lewis wrote “God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them”.
I heard this week of an old lady, who lost her husband this year, telling a tradesman that she had no one to share this Christmas with and that she would be all alone for the first time in her life. I know she is one in a million of such tales, forgotten and left alone. I feel challenged and would challenge you this Christmas to look out for those beaten up bears, those raggedy dolls, and reach out with the transforming love of Christ.