Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Some fifty years ago, some people gave of their very special family time, their talents, and their gifts to bring the joy of Christmas to a very mixed group of strangers, whom they would never see or contact again for the remainder of their lives -- but they gave. Below is a story of just that.
My husband was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed at Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, and we were very fortunate to have obtained married accommodation. It was Christmas time, and for the first time in my life, I was separated from my family. Goose Bay was completely isolated from any other community. The only means of contact with "the outside world" was by letter or telegram. To receive mail was a very important occasion, but how I longed to hear those precious voices of my family.
A few days before Christmas, the local radio station announced that Bob Hope and his team would be arriving in a few days to give a stage show. Our whole world turned upside down with sheer excitement at the prospect of such a celebrity coming to our remote and tiny community. The show was held in an aircraft hangar. The temperature outside was between minus forty and minus forty-five degrees Celsius, and very little warmer inside. Although hot air was blown in, it was bitterly cold. Regardless, the ladies appeared on stage dressed in gorgeous, flimsy evening gowns, and the men were dressed only a little warmer in suits.
What a welcome they received! During the whole program, comments of encouragement were given by the audience to those participating. Because an American base was part of the community, the accents ranged from those of the Deep South to New York, together with many British, French-Canadian, and English-Canadian accents. Rank did not enter into the equation; we were all friends gathered together to enjoy the warmth of fellowship and laughter.
How very clearly and with detail do I remember that occasion. My sympathy was with the married men separated from their wives and families. Some had not had the joy of holding their firstborn in their arms. But momentarily, we all were given a very special gift without having to reciprocate -- a precious gift of oneness, of fellowship, of laughter, yes, and joy. This gift had not been wrapped in bright wrapping paper with attached bows, or carefully enclosed in a box for protection. It would not need such care, for it would never tarnish or become damaged with time, because it would always be kept securely within the heart.
That first Christmas, Mary and Joseph were strangers in Bethlehem, and strangers provided shelter for them. Other strangers left their fields to worship the newborn Son of God. Rank was of no concern, for strangers of great prestige left their position of authority to obey the heavenly instructions and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords and to give Him treasures.
Christmas is for strangers!
Dear Lord, we pray that You will bring a stranger across our path this Christmas season, that we may be able to give a gift to that person, without any expectation of reciprocation, and may we be mindful to give without counting the cost. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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