Matthew 2:1-2a – Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? (KJV)
Some fifty years ago, some people gave of their very special family time, their talents, and their gifts to bring the joy of Christmas to a very mixed group of strangers, whom they would never see or contact again for the remainder of their lives — but they gave.
My husband was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed at Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, and we were very fortunate to have obtained married accommodation. It was Christmastime, and for the first time in my life, I was separated from my family. Goose Bay was completely isolated from any other community. The only means of contact with "the outside world" was by letter or telegram. To receive mail was a very important occasion, but how I longed to hear those precious voices of my family.
A few days before Christmas, the local radio station announced that Bob Hope and his team would be arriving in a few days to give a stage show. Our whole world turned upside down with sheer excitement at the prospect of such a celebrity coming to our remote and tiny community. The show was held in an aircraft hangar. The temperature outside was between minus forty and minus forty-five degrees Celsius, and very little warmer inside. Although hot air was blown in, it was bitterly cold. Regardless, the ladies appeared on stage dressed in gorgeous, flimsy evening gowns, and the men were dressed only a little warmer in suits.
What a welcome they received! During the whole program, comments of encouragement were given by the audience to those participating. Because an American base was part of the community, the accents ranged from those of the Deep South to New York, together with many British, French-Canadian, and English-Canadian accents. Rank did not enter into the equation; we were all friends gathered together to enjoy the warmth of fellowship and laughter.
How very clearly and with detail do I remember that occasion. My sympathy was with the married men separated from their wives and families. Some had not had the joy of holding their firstborn in their arms. But momentarily, we all were given a very special gift without having to reciprocate — a precious gift of oneness, of fellowship, of laughter, yes, and joy. This gift had not been wrapped in bright wrapping paper with attached bows, or carefully enclosed in a box for protection. It would not need such care, for it would never tarnish or become damaged with time, because it would always be kept securely within the heart.
That first Christmas, Mary and Joseph were strangers in Bethlehem, and strangers provided shelter for them. Other strangers left their fields to worship the newborn Son of God. Rank was of no concern, for strangers of great prestige left their position of authority to obey the heavenly instructions and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords and to give Him treasures.
Christmas is for strangers!
Prayer: Our gracious heavenly Father, we pray that You will bring a stranger across our path this Christmas season, that we may be able to give a gift to that person, without any expectation of reciprocation, and may we be mindful to give without counting the cost. We would remember with joy that it was this season of the year many years ago, that Your plan was put into place, to give the greatest gift mankind shall ever receive, such a gift of love, to enable us to become part of Your family. We praise You and give thanks for Your Son and our Saviour, Christ Jesus. Amen.