We Beheld His Glory

The True Gift of Christmas

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. — Luke 2:7 NKJV

“Sorry we’re late,” Jessica said as she entered my home in a rush with her two boys.

Two hours late! Didn’t she realize I had no room in my busy schedule for this? Jessica had agreed to wrap presents to earn extra cash.

“My neighbor was fixing my brakes,” Jessica explained as she reached for a roll of silver snowman paper.

My ill humor vanished. Each Sunday, the young family had walked to our church from a nearby women’s shelter, until Jessica had been able to purchase a dilapidated car with a damaged windshield, no brakes, and missing side mirrors. Now her simple explanation for their tardiness shifted something crowded inside me, making room for compassion.

“Would you like cookies and cocoa?” I asked the boys.

The boys nodded and settled in to watch a Christmas video. As she wrapped, Jessica shared the challenges of living in a shelter. The noise. The lack of privacy. How they locked all their belongings in the car trunk for safekeeping.

After the presents were stacked neatly under our tree, Jessica refused the money I tried to press into her hands, explaining that a peaceful evening in my home was enough of a gift.

As Jessica edged the beat-up car away from the curb with her greatest treasures buckled in the backseat, I thought of another family seeking shelter in an inn and finding no room. The gift of that night, like this one, was hidden in humble circumstances, waiting to be seen.

Jesus, sometimes the gift of Christmas arrives in unexpected ways. This Christmas, help me open the door and invite You in.

~Lynne Hartke

Digging Deeper: John 3:16; James 1:17

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The Savior Is Born

And she will have a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. —Matthew 1:21 NLT

“Even if our grandson is a city boy, he needs a play barn,” my parents explained when I called to thank them for the farm set they had given our two-year-old son, Nate. My parents were in Wisconsin, along with aunts, uncles, and cousins from all over the Midwest, for food, laughter, and milking the cows while celebrating Christmas at the farmstead that had been in our family for a hundred years.

Meanwhile, my husband, Kevin, Nate, and I were spending Christmas in our new home near the Phoenix metropolis — there were plenty of buildings and plastic snowmen but not a farm animal or relative in sight. We made our own joy, adding tamales to our traditional menu and playing carols while we opened gifts, including Nate’s favorite, “Away in a Manger.” With toddler enthusiasm, he always shouted the line where Jesus was “asleep on the hay!”

Nate played with his new barn under the Christmas tree while I picked up wrapping paper and bits of ribbon. When I went to straighten the nativity set by the fireplace, though, I realized baby Jesus was missing. I checked under the furniture and even sorted through the trash can.

“Nate, where is baby Jesus?” I asked.

“Asleep on the hay,” he said, pointing to his red barn. Sure enough, baby Jesus was resting next to the feeding trough, surrounded by the animals.

Even as a city boy, our son knew where Jesus belonged on Christmas Day — in a plastic barn of new beginnings.

Dear Jesus, fill my heart with a child’s wonder this Christmas so that I know where to look for You.

~Lynne Hartke

Digging Deeper: Luke 2:1-20; 2 Corinthians 9:15

Excerpted with permission from Daily Guideposts 2022, copyright Guideposts.

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Your Turn

Let’s ask the question, “Lord, how can we share You with others this Christmas?” and give help, joy, and friendship where we can. It might be the highlight of Christmas! We all could use a little more childlike wonder, right? Let’s look to Him! ~ Devotionals Daily

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