The Christmas card my mother always looked forward to receiving came year after year from Smicker Smith. Smicker lived in our village for a few years during my boyhood. One year his parents went on holiday and asked my mother if he could stop with us for a week. My mother readily agreed. Smicker never forgot that week. His annual Christmas card was a sort of testimony to my mother's kindness and joie de vivre.

After the death of my mother Smicker sent his card to me and I replied by sending him my annual letter. A few years ago Smicker's Christmas cards stopped. Each December I kept posting him my review of the year until finally I decided to stop. I supposed he had lost interest in my seasonal communication.

Last Christmas an envelope addressed to 4 Manor Close was pushed through my letterbox. Scrawled on the envelope were the words, 'Try Meadow Close.' I did indeed live at 4 Meadow Close, Bury St Edmunds. It was a card from Smicker. The envelope provided a word of explanation. For several years Smicker had been misaddressing his Christmas card and it had not been delivered. I understood.

Jesus is God's word of explanation. He shows us what God is like. Jesus was an open book - full of grace and truth. Jesus shows us what God is like by revealing to us what God approves: faithfulness, integrity, wholeheartedness, enthusiasm and compassion.

Smicker's card also contained a word of reassurance. This is what it said:

I hope this card finds you well, as we are both well. I did not receive your usual letter last year much to the dismay of my wife and I. Your yearly letter is much appreciated by us both as we picture the situations you so vividly describe.

I usually read this out loud one evening when we retire for the day - so as you see we really look forward to this annual event.

I thought that I had been forgotten but, no, Smicker really looked forward to hearing from me and was upset when he did not do so. It is good to be remembered. Christmas is a time for remembering old friends. I cherish the little note old Stanley Knight put on his card to me: You are not forgotten, John, and we wish you every blessing in all that you put your hand to.

There had been no word from the Lord to the people of Israel for four hundred years and, perhaps, they felt forgotten. God says through Isaiah the prophet: Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she forget, I will not forget you. Is49v15.

I thought my annual letter was not valued. How wrong I was. Smicker read it to his wife in bed as a sort of Christmas ritual. So many people have the wrong idea about God. They think He doesn't care about them, that He is indifferent to them - that they don't matter. Yet 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. John3v16.

Recently I spent several hours reading through the letters my mother sent to my father whilst they were courting in the late 1930's. In every letter, over and over again, my mother reassured her Frank that she loved him. Jesus is God's love letter to us - he reassures us of a Father's heart of love.

Smicker's letter contained a word of concern: I did not receive your usual letter last year much to the dismay of my wife and I. Jesus is God's word of concern. He is saying, "I love you, I value you. Why haven't I heard from you? Where are you? I am missing you."

I wrote back to Smicker the very same day I received his message. There was no delay. What will your response be to God's word?

Many years before the events described above I taught at the County Upper School, Bury St Edmunds. My form would talk while I was trying to call the register. After numerous warnings I said, "If you persist in chattering for the couple of minutes it takes me to call the register you will spend the last period of term writing about the error of your ways." They ignored my threat. The last period before breaking up for the Christmas holiday arrived. It was Christmas - the season of goodwill towards children! My form did not expect to spend an hour writing an essay on the, 'Benefits of obedience.' Every single one of them sat in sullen silence writing about the nastiness of their teacher! I could feel waves of hate emanating from the bowed heads. I could almost taste it! It is hard to know who was more relieved to hear the bell - the children or myself. As they trooped out there were no farewell hugs or kisses, not even a, "Happy Christmas, Mr Reed." They all left, except for one girl, Jane Noble. She stopped behind, fumbled in her bag and brought out a Christmas card. She plonked it on my desk and said, "There you are Mr Reed. It's more than you deserve!" It is a card I treasure - the one I did not deserve.

Jesus is the word none of us deserve. He didn't come to earth because we were loveable. He came to save us from our sins. He came to repair our broken relationship with God. HIS LOVE IS MORE THAN WE DESERVE.