Pastor John Writes:
One year on Christmas Eve, a pastor in a small town had just finished the worship service at his church. When he returned home, he brought out presents and piled them under the tree. Just as he was about to fall exhausted into bed, the pastor remembered his neighbor’s sheep.
His neighbor had asked him to feed his sheep while he was away, so the pastor went down the hill, through the snow, got two bales of hay from the barn and carried them out to the shed. There was a forty-watt bulb hanging by itself from the ceiling, and as the sheep gathered in the corner, he shook the bale of hay and started scattering it. The sheep came bumbling in to get their hay, and as the minister reached to turn off the bulb and leave, suddenly he realized where he was.
The darkness of winter. The glimmer of light. The smell of the hay and the sound of animals eating. Where he was, of course, was a stable by a manger.
And it took him a while to notice it. As a pastor, whose business it is to notice such things, he almost missed it. As one who understands that everything precious anywhere comes from a child born in a manger, he might have easily gone home to bed never realizing that he himself had just been at a manger. Then, he remembered where he was.
This year, during the Advent and Christmas seasons, remember where we are. Remember that Christmas itself is a gift.
The Christmas message this year, and every year, is that God is with us.
Jesus, Lord, Emmanuel.
God chose to dwell in the midst of God’s people, and God’s son was born in Bethlehem, one of the least of the towns of Judah. No matter how this time of year finds us, remember where we are. In times of joy, and times of sorrow, in all times, Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. That is our light, that is our hope, and that is our peace. At Christmastime, and always.
The Rev. John G. Rights