Friday, December 23, 2011
For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form (only) one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12 AMP
After my parents were divorced finances were difficult. Fortunately, My Mom, a new Christian, had a group of strong Christian friends who supported her spiritually and helped her grow in Christ through times of praise, study and prayer meetings. I don’t’ see many prayer meetings anymore, but these women prayed together every Thursday.
Each Christmas Eve my Mom, sister and I looked forward to bundling up and walking to church. The sidewalks of our quaint suburban were lined with luminaries made of paper bags, mason jars or milk jugs. There was a certain reverent hush as the candlelight danced on the blanket of snow giving the town a magical, hopeful glow.
The pine scented church was abundantly decorated with green-lit trees. Nestled among a dozen trees in a front alcove was the manger scene--everyone present except Jesus.
Exactly at midnight, the choir director’s wife would begin to sing “Oh, Holy Night”. As the song ambled toward its crescendo, Jesus would be carried slowly down the center aisle and placed in the manger.
It was a time of reverence, wonder and awe. Not because of the gifts we would receive, but because of the gift we already received—Jesus.
The year I turned nine, we walked home from church as usual, basking in the warmth of the music and the enchanting glow of the candlelight. When we reached home and opened the door, each of us, including Mom, was amazed. Pouring across the floor in front of the fireplace was an avalanche of gifts. It was obvious to this nine-year-old and her younger sister that Santa had indeed been there. It was more than we expected; more than we needed. We would have been content to spend the day together with a few gifts from the dollar store, but God and his people had other plans.
My Mom’s prayer group “got it”. Although it didn’t need to be a time of extravagant gift giving, God had given the rather extravagant gift of His son. . .and they, His other children, made in His image, followed suit. Not to impress, not out of obligation, not to have a “good deed at Christmas” crossed off of their to do list; they gave out of His love and extravagance toward them.
Like most Christmases, I can’t remember what I received, but what remains is the memory of friends who not only saw a need, but took time out of their busy holiday schedules to make a plan, meet the need and demonstrate His love. Friends who were truly His hands and feet.