“A Christmas Lesson”

“Is there a purpose? Why are we here?”
A little boy asked as the yuletide drew near.
“I really do hope that someday I will know
The reason we stand out here in the snow,
Ringing this bell as people walk by
While snowflakes descend from out of the sky.”
The mother just smiled at her shivering son
Who would rather be playing and having some fun,
But soon would discover before evening was done
The meaning of Christmas, the very first one.
The young boy exclaimed, “Mother, where does it go–
All the pennies we collect every year in the snow?
Why do we do it? Why do we care?
We work for these pennies, so why should we share?”
“Because once a small baby, so meek and so mild
Was born in a manger,” she said to the child.
“The Son of a King was born in this way
To give us the message He carried that day.”
“You mean baby Jesus? Is He why we’re here,
Ringing this bell at Christmas time every year?”
“Yes,” said the mother, “that is why you should know
About the very first Christmas a long time ago.
The present God gave to the world on that night
Was the gift of His Son to make everything right.
Why did He do it? Why did He care?
To teach about loving and how we should share.
The meaning of Christmas, you see, my dear son,
Is not about presents and just having fun.
But the gift of a Father – His own precious Son
So the world would be saved when His work was all done.”
Now the little boy smiled with a tear in his eye
As snowflakes kept falling from out of the sky –
Rang louder the bell as the people walked by,
While down deep in his heart, at last he knew why.
–Poem by Tom Krause
Copyright 2003

When I ask myself what I could learn from Christmas, I didn’t want to just write something mundane. So I spoke about it to my wife, and together we settled upon the topic of giving.
When I found this poem, though, I felt like God really confirmed that He was speaking to my heart. Therefore, I wanted to share the thoughts with you that had come alive within me.
As I read and reread our opening poem, Tom Krause’s words really touched me, because I wondered if I needed to ask similar questions to those of the little boy. Then, as I attempted to look at giving from a Christmas perspective, I wondered anew what lessons this season could teach me.
Yes, Christmas is a fun time with family and friends, and of course food. But what about when I don’t have Santa’s cheery face to fall back on, and life seems unbearable?
The question I came up with that really haunted me, therefore, is one i would like to share with you. Namely, is our giving a product of self-motivation, or of God’s inspiration and blessing? I ask this because life could become hard for any one of us in the next 12 months. Therefore, I encourage you to join me on what I have found to be a life-changing journey.
As in that little boy’s case, when life seems mundane, I urge you to remember Jesus, and what I call manger motivation. So instead of thinking about the inn which was full, let’s use our imaginations and take a trip with the 3 wise men (complete with a few modern liberties, of course).

Joe was just closing up his business, Joe Wise Burgers and Fries, when his friends burst through the door. Without so much as a hello, they all cried in unison.
“Hey Joe, did you see that star in the east?”
“Aw, you’ve seen one star, you’ve seen them all. Now let me finish up.”
“No, Joe,” one of his two retired professor buddies volunteered. “We’ll help you clean up. This is different.”
“What?!” said Joe, scratching his head. “This is a real miracle! You guys never help clean up. You just want free burgers, don’t you?”
“Well, we will tonight, but you have to come outside!”
As they stepped out, Joe admitted, “I’ve got to hand it to you, guys. This new star is amazing!”
After a moment’s thought he declared, “I think we should follow that star.”
Before Joe could finish his thought, his friends jumped in. “Joe, what are you talking about? You have the craziest ideas! Who would run your shop?”
Exasperated, Joe held up his hand. “Just listen for once! You guys may be educated hot-shots, but I’ve got street smarts. I’ve got a person who’s been chompin’ at the bit to buy this shop, and I could sell out tomorrow.
“I just remembered, though–I overheard the tail end of a conversation. Two guys were sitting at the counter, and one was a regular who thinks he knows everything. I usually don’t pay much attention to him, but today he was talkin’ about some kind of star he heard about on the news. It was supposed to come out tonight, and lead to some kind of King. I figure we need a change of government anyway, because the taxes are outrageous. So I decided to listen.”
When Joe had finished, he and his friends discussed this, and they agreed to gather gifts for this mysterious dignitary. They decided they would head out in a week.
When the star eventually led them to Jerusalem, they asked at the local convenience store, “Do you know where the King of the Jews was born?”
“Who wants to know?” retorted the proprietor. “You guys must be new around here.”
“You got that right,” Joe replied. “We saw His star in the east, and we came to worship Him.”
The owner of the store posted their strange request on Facebook, and it wasn’t long before the news got all the way to King Herod.
The king was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. He called a town meeting of the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, and he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.
“In Bethlehem, in Judea,” they replied, and after doing a Google search, they found the correct scriptures.
“This is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
After dismissing the meeting, Herod asked the three wise men who had attended to stay behind. He called them all together and asked, “Hey, do you fellows know when that star appeared?”
They told him they’d first seen it at about nine o’clock one night a couple years ago. Herod sighed, throwing up his hands.
“Well, why didn’t you tell me already? It’s hard to find good help these days. However, if you think you can handle it, go to Bethlhem and do a thorough search so I can worship Him too.”
The star which the wise men had seen went ahead of them, until it stopped over the place where the child was. Although most of them were overjoyed by the star’s presence, Joe had some misgivings.
“This is nothin’ but a hick country town! Give me a GPS any day.”
But the others told him to be quiet, saying that he had gotten them into this.
So they followed the star, which finally stopped over a humble little house. Knocking on the door, they were led to the child with his mother, Mary. The restauranteur and the retired professors bowed down and worshiped the Child. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

I like to think that dream was a defining moment in the lives of these wise men, because it is often after we worship that we receive revelation. Think about it–just as the wise men went on an arduous journey to find Jesus, our own giving is often the same, spiritually speaking. Like the wise men who trudged along those country roads, we often have to wait to see the fruit of our giving. And like the little boy in our opening poem, we may ask exactly why we are doing this.
However, the Apostle Paul tells us something different in Galatians 6:9:
“And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due time we will reap if we faint not.”
Therefore, one Christmas lesson I feel God is trying to teach me is to work on patience and perseverance. I’m sure my wife would wholeheartedly agree, but I won’t open that can of worms. The question for you is this: As you reflect upon these words, what is God saying to you?
Have a merry Christmas, but as you do, make it an extra-special Christmas for those around you.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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