One night, long ago, He came. God took on flesh and lived among us. What does that mean? A king like no other has come. Christ the Savior is born on this day. Hope finds the hopeless. Love falls from heaven. Joy fills the earth. Peace conquers fear. He is a light to the lost. The bread of life to the hungry. The healer of the broken. The redeemer of the fallen. He came quietly, miraculously, humbly, and willingly. He came to love, to heal, and to serve. He came to forgive, to renew, and to save. He came for everyone. He came for you and me. That is the meaning of the name, Emmanuel. God with us! Emmanuel!
But if we had been the shepherds one night long ago, I wonder if we had recognized the star or known the reason why God not only came to us but also became one of us. I wonder if we had really gone to worship Christ at the manger. Then, I wonder would we know recognize him.
What if Jesus came today? I wonder, would we recognize him. Or would we turn away from Him not knowing who he is.
One of my favorite Christmas stories is called "Where Love is, God is" by Tolstoy. It is about the old shoe maker who dreamed one Christmas Eve that Jesus would come to visit him the next day. The dream was so real that he was convinced it would come true. So the next morning, he started fire, cooked some food, and prepared some tea. He was so sure that Jesus was going to come that he just sat down and waited for Him.
The hours passed and Jesus didn’t come but an old man came. He came inside for a moment to get warm out of the winter cold. He gave the old man a cup of tea, and the man thanked him and left. Still he waited but Jesus didn’t come. A mother with a child came. They stayed for a while, and then he prepared some food for her to eat so that she could feed her child. Then, the mother left.
Then he sat down again to wait for Jesus but Jesus still didn’t come. Then he heard a little boy crying out in front of his shop. He went out and discovered that the boy had been caught stealing an apple from an old lady. So he paid for the apple. The boy asked for forgiveness and the old lady forgave him.
When he came back, it was at night. He came back home and fell asleep. In his dream, God appeared to him. He said, “God, you promised to visit me today. I waited for you all day and all night. Why didn’t you come?” God replied in his dream, “I kept my word. Did you not recognize me?” I visited you three times today. I was the old man you helped. I was the young mother you fed. I was the young boy you forgave. For I was hungry, you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done it unto me.”
Many of us are waiting to meet with God. We long for a divine encounter and still pray for that moment to come. Then I want to ask, "Is it really difficult to find God in our midst? Is it really difficult to fulfill our call to love God and love our neighbors?" God is waiting on the streets, waiting for you to invite him in. God is waiting for you to give food, water, and love. Now, it is our time to share the gift of Christmas. Share the Good News of God’s salvation with others. Christmas is not about making us feel good and comfortable but is about love and serve others the way God has showed us.
It is now our time to love and serve others by sharing the gift of Christmas. May this season of Christmas be a time where we embody the true meaning of Christmas and live a life pleasing to God’s eyes.