As we move into the Advent Season, we look forward to the joys of Christmas. It certainly is more complicated today than in the time of the wise men from the East carrying gold, frankincense and myrrh.
I have often wondered what the wise men would think of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and trying to find a parking spot for their camels at the mall. Would the Magi even be noticed among shoppers of all ages, shapes and sizes running from store to store to find the best deals on iPhones, Xboxes, Kindles, clothing, jewelry and “smellin‘ goods?”
But let’s not forget that there’s one gift that will meet everyone’s needs and never will break or need repair: a baby in a manger. He is the one the whole season is about.
So you may ask yourself, “Well, that was then, and this is now. What can I do to make a difference in this season of hope in others’ lives?”
Don’t ever forget that everything we do can make a dramatic difference in one or many lives, leaving God’s legacy in your hands! Here’s a story to remember about the true meaning of Christmas:
An older man named Everett sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn’t been anywhere or felt the same since his wife passed away. It was just another day. He was sitting there watching it snow when a man who appeared to be homeless walked through the door. Everett told the man to sit by the heater and warm up, handed him a bowl with some homemade stew from his thermos and said he had some fresh coffee, too. The stranger thought he might be intruding and offered to go, but Old Everett wouldn’t hear of it.
Just then, an old Chevy pulled into the station with steam coming out the front. The driver was panicked and asked Everett if he could help. He told him his wife was in the car and was going to have a baby. He was scared.
Everett opened the hood and it appeared there was nothing he could do to fix the car. He went into the station and got the keys for his old truck and went back outside. He told the man to take his truck, and he helped get the pregnant woman into the truck.
“It doesn’t look like much, but it runs good. Now get going!” Everett said.
When he went back into the station, the bowl and the coffee cup were empty, and the homeless man was gone.
Just then, he heard gunshots in front of the station and found an officer shot in the shoulder. He used his radio to call for an ambulance and got him inside the station. Everett remembered his Army training as a medic and stopped the bleeding and tried to make the officer comfortable.
Then the door flew open, and a young man with a gun demanded money. The officer said that this was the man who shot him. Old Everett told the young man to put down his gun and offered him the $150 he had in his pocket. The robber then dropped to his knees sobbing that he had lost his job, his rent was due and he got his car repossessed. He just wanted to buy something for his wife and son. He then apologized to the officer for shooting him and told him the gun just went off. Everett told him that, many times, doing stupid things makes us human, as he handed his gun to the officer.
The ambulance and police arrived shortly after that. Old Everett and the young man looked puzzled when the officer told the other police officers that someone had shot him and ran off in the dark and that he would be fine. The officer then asked if the young man worked at the station. Everett nodded that he had just hired him. The officer wished them both a merry Christmas as they put him into the ambulance.
Everett pulled a box out of his desk, reached in and pulled out a ring box, which held his wife’s wedding ring. He gave it to the young man for his wife, saying that his wife would be pleased. He also pulled out some toy soldiers for his son as a gift. And then Everett told him to keep the $150 for needs at his house. The younger man left with tears in his eyes and promised to be there to start work the day after Christmas.
Everett turned around, and the homeless man was standing there. Everett asked where he came from.
“I’ve always been here, Everett, in spite of your grief and loneliness,” the man said. “I am so glad that, whether you believe it or not, you still celebrate Christmas. You gave me food, drink and warmth when I was cold and hungry without knowing my name. The pregnant woman will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The police officer you helped will go on to save 20 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man without thinking of himself.”
Everett asked him how he knew all this.
“Trust me; I have the inside track on these things,” the man said. “You will also be with your loving wife again when your days are done.
“I have to go now,” he continued. “There’s a celebration planned for me because today is my birthday.”
And just then, the man’s old, torn clothes turned into a glowing white robe.
Always remember how important you are to so many others and the legacy you leave with your kindness.
Scherer is a crisis intervention minister and the leader of the local Stephen Ministry.