When I was young I had a doll that I loved.  It was a Crissy doll.  She had hair that grew out of the top of her head by a push of a button on her back.  Now that I write this it sounds rather creepy, but I loved her.  I took her everywhere.  She only had one outfit, an orange dress that clashed with her auburn hair but that didn’t matter. She was beautiful.  I would spend hours changing her hair style - long then short, short then long and back again, making her outfits and just plain loving her.


My uncle came to visit from India, and he saw how I loved playing with Crissy.  He thought that his daughter (my cousin Salina) would love her too.  He was packing up to leave for the airport when he said he wanted to stop by a store and pick one up, but there wasn’t time. 


So a dreaded thing happened.  


He asked me if he could take my Crissy doll to India to give to Salina, assuring me that my mom would buy me another one.  I was six or seven at the time and I clung onto Crissy like she was a life preserver.  I didn’t have the nerve to say “no” but I did not want to let her go.


My mom, trying to be hospitable to her older brother encouraged me to release Crissy into the hands of my uncle.  I did.  I was heartbroken. I don’t think my mother or my uncle ever understood how much I loved Crissy. “It was just a doll, after all”. 


I released her out of love and respect for my elders.  As it happens, we didn’t have the extra money to spend on the luxury of replacing a doll. That was the last time I saw Crissy until years later when we went to visit our family in India.  I found Crissy on the floor of a dark closet.  Her hair had been chopped off, her eyes were gouged out, her beautiful face was covered in ink marks, her orange dress torn, barely covering up that she was missing an arm and a leg.   It was like a scene from a horror movie!  I couldn’t speak. I was so upset with my cousin for not appreciating the love that was wrapped up in this doll.


Life goes on, as it does. “It was just a doll, after all”, I would say to myself, but as you have already figured out I never forgot about that doll.  The sacrifice I made (and for the sacrifice to be ignored) was enough to leave an indelible mark.


Flash forward many, many years to the era of the internet and eBay.  Brian, having heard my sad tale (more than once) found my beloved Crissy online and purchased her for me.  She wasn’t new, for Pete’s sake she was a 40 year old doll, but she was perfect, just as I remembered her before she left my arms. Silly isn’t it for me as a grown woman, with two children of her own, to find peace in this amazing gesture. It was restoration.

Over the past few weeks we have been working through a sermon series that centres around the Parable of the Prodigal son.  We have been talking about the unconditional love of God. We’ve been talking about God’s desire to be with us, which has nothing to do with what we have done or what we will do.  And we have been talking about how more than anything else, God wants restoration with us.  


Sometimes it is hard for us to receive undeserved love, so we try to earn it. But try as we might, we can’t.  We don’t need to. God’s love doesn’t work that way. What God has done for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross, the ultimate sacrifice, God did for love.  For you and for me. Instead of trying to understand it, or deserve it, or pay for it, God just wants us to receive it and say, “Thank you.” When we do that, God's love begins to change us.

This week join us as we conclude this series and look at the impact of this amazing surprise party for each of us, today!