And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
– John [1:14]
Over two thousand years ago, Jesus arrived on earth. As the Son of God, he was both human and divine. A simple gift from God for us in human form. In today’s verse, Jesus is called the Word. If we substitute Word with Jesus, it makes the verse clearer. In other words, “Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us.”
A wonderful gift from God to those of us here on earth. Jesus was the first gift from the first Christmas. The word Christmas comes from Middle English and means “Christ’s mass.” Simply translated to mean the anointed one was sent—a present for humankind from God.
Today, Christmas is celebrated throughout the world on December 25th. Although there are many traditions around Christmas, some parts of the world only celebrate Christmas on the twenty-fifth. At the same time, in other regions, Christmas lasts twelve days and ends with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.
Presents are exchanged, and dinners are held. There are candlelight services and the final lighting of the advent candle. It is a time when families and friends gather and celebrate this momentous day.
It is also a busy time of preparation and shopping. Unfortunately, many of us get lost in getting everything right. While many have a wonderful holiday, others are left alone. Christmas can be a time of gifts but also a time of loneliness and despair.
Since a number of years ago, Christmas has meant something different to me. It occurred after an unusual act of kindness I had heard about.
A woman named Beth was homeless and near destitution. She was living in a shelter and working at a Dunkin Donuts. She had only two things: a car and a child. Her simple goal was to find housing for her and her daughter in the new year.
On Christmas eve, she had to work. She waited on customers, and this night, her boss asked her to scrap gum off the bottom of the tables. While upset about this request, she still complied for fear of losing her job.
As she scraped gum off the bottom of the tables, she noticed a solitary woman about her age crying and slumped over, sitting at a booth.
After an hour or so and close to closing, Beth saw the woman wasn’t emerging from her despair. So when she clocked out, she went to the woman and asked if she could help.
The woman told her she was broke, hungry, and had no place to go. It was raining very hard, and Beth noticed the woman was poorly dressed. Beth listened to her story and found her heart breaking. She took her outside and drove her to the shelter she was staying. She got her checked in and helped her get settled.
All the money Beth had on her that night was her tips and her food money. She was close to having enough saved in the bank to make the down payment on a new apartment. The money she had with her would allow her to make the deposit for a new home
In the morning, she asked the woman what she could do to help. The woman told her she wanted to go home to her parents and start over. To accomplish this, she needed a bus ticket. Beth took her to the bus station and bought her a ticket home. Then went across the street and bought her breakfast. The woman got on the bus to start her life over.
Beth later heard from the woman; she had reconciled with her parents and was now working. On a rainy evening, the woman had been visited by another woman, Beth, who had the spirit of giving – a spirit of Christmas. She gave her some of the money she was saving to use as a down payment to get an apartment. But, she explained to me later while she needed the money for herself and her daughter, she felt this woman needed it more.
The following week, Beth found a better job, and her new landlord, after hearing about why Beth didn’t have all the money she needed, allowed her to move into her new apartment.
Beth moved on to resolving the issues which had created her homelessness. Her new job helped her pay for her life. Her daughter started school, and she remembers the first morning her daughter got on a school bus. A grateful for time for her; she had a home and a job, and her daughter could now have a normal life.
When you ask her today, “What was your favorite Christmas?” She will tell you it was the night she could help someone else. A memory she uses to help her understand the meaning of Christmas.
God sent Jesus to help us. So that first Christmas, we not only got Jesus, our savior. But, we also received an example of the meaning of Christmas- giving to others.