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The Most Precious Gift

"They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route." Matthew 2:11-12 CEB

"It’s the most wonderful time of the year!" Those are the messages we hear this time of the year. Be merry, be happy. That is what we are supposed to feel, isn’t it? Only it’s not – not for everyone. Not when there is an empty chair at the table. Not when your body is ravaged with illness. Not when the despair is too much to bear. Not when that special relationship you used to have, is not there anymore. Not when you feel all alone, even in a crowd. Not when you are not sure you can even afford the rent or mortgage, let alone presents.

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. Yet I really can’t imagine that the first Christmas was that serene, calm, and peaceful. In my mind, I would think that Joseph kept busy keeping track of the animals, shooing them away from his newborn son, and his wife, trying to keep a fit place for mother and child. And I wouldn’t think that it was too quiet with all those animals in there.

Then things got worse. For King Herod had gotten word that this baby born in Bethlehem was to be the King of the Jews. This Jesus was a threat. He even sent spies out, the magi, to find this child. Yet Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus had already fled to Egypt. Not a good way for Jesus to begin his earthly life.

Yet, it is the most wonderful time of the year, not because we have to be cheery and happy and merry. But because we don’t. We can have heavy spirits, shattered dreams, deep sorrow, broken hearts, and deep wounds. And in all these, God still comes to be with us.

God relentlessly pursues us to comfort us, to redeem us, to save us, to give us hope, to grant us peace. Even to the extreme that He came to us as one of us, to experience all the things we experience, the happy times, yet even more importantly the painful times. For God’s love and grace for us is not diminished by the darkness we feel in our lives. And God has given us this great light, and it is a light for which darkness can never, ever overcome.


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