This is Edward Bear.
He and I have known each other for over half a century. Edward was made by my Granny when I was born. And when I was young, Edward and I would go on many adventures together. Edward still carries the scars of some of those adventures. Like the hole in his bottom, when he and I sat too close to Granny’s open hearth fire, and a hot coal spat out and burnt him! But Edward’s okay and that was a long time ago.
Edward didn’t always look as he does now. My Granny didn’t make Edward any clothes for him. Nor did she give him the big smile he has now. But I loved him, and he and I were inseparable. Then I grew up, and had a family of my own – and that was when Edward went missing! Now, moving house can be tricky – especially when you move more than once – and where I thought Edward was, he was not. Can you imagine how sad I felt?
Years passed and then came 2020. And a strange, rollercoaster year it has been, hasn’t it? Many of us have learned to become more digitally connected, but in some ways, perhaps we have experienced feelings of being disconnected too.
During last summer I got around to some of those getting ‘A Round Tuit’ jobs – that at other normal times maybe we never quite get around to – do you know what I mean? Well for me it consisted in clearing out the loft and the garage. And what a clear out it was! No wonder I hadn’t quite got around to it before. And it was then that I found Edward in an old suitcase. A bit dirty, and a bit squashed, but it was him. Immediately I picked him up, brushed him off, and brought him out of that cold, dark place, where he had stayed for so many years. I brough Edward back into the daylight – on one of those glorious sunny days, many of us enjoyed in the summer of 2020. My mother in law soon got to work on Edward. She washed him, restored him, made him some new clothes; and gave him a brand new, beaming smile.
So what does all this have to do with anything, you might be wondering?
Well, you see – Edward is you and me. Each of us has been lovingly and wonderfully made – by God. Each of us has our own adventure story to tell – just like Edward. Each of us may know what it means to be lost, or just feeling a bit squashed! For adventures are seldom risk free. And because of that, each of us may even know cold, dark, places – just like Edward.
But just like Edward, our story doesn’t end there. For God sent his only Son into the world to find us, and to restore us into a wonderful relationship with Him. Jesus didn’t start his quest in fine palaces, but in an overcrowded town – and his very first bed was, of all things – a manger. Jesus ventures into the cold, dark, places to find us, with a light that cannot be overwhelmed by the darkness. And when Jesus finds us, he wants to restore us – just like the people we hear of in the Bible stories of when Jesus was a man. It’s a restoration that may well leave us with a beaming smile, just like Edward’s. And it’s a restoration that can begin today – wherever we are, however we may feel, and however long we have felt like that.
I am sure 2020 has been a very different year for many of us. But the message of Jesus remains the same. That God is seeking to restore us, in a wonderful and loving way – to be the people God knows we can be. We can trust in God’s longing to restore us, but more than that, we can help God in restoring others too. It doesn’t have to take much, just an act of random kindness.
Edward is just a toy of course. But his is more than just a toy story. When I look at him now, I see that it’s our story. And that perhaps the one thing God longs for all of us to have one day, is a smile, just like Edward’s. A smile that comes in this instance, from a restoration plan that began long ago, in a manger and ended on a cross.
But of course, it doesn’t end there…