Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:39
When I think of Christmas, I prefer to dwell on the moment in the Christmas story when all is well—when Jesus is warm and safe in a manger and Mary and Joseph can finally exhale with the relief and gratitude of new parents. That moment glows. But there was a dangerous journey on either side of our Savior’s birth, and I learned from my parents years ago that experiencing the whole of our Christmas story will sometimes call us out of our safe and warm places. My parents, brother, and I had visited family one Christmas Eve and were driving home on Interstate 85. We pulled into a rest area, hurrying because we didn’t want to lose a moment of Christmas Eve there. I remember how cold the air felt after the warmth inside our car.
There at the rest area, we found another family—two parents and two children, like us—but with a broken-down car, no money, no phone, no way to get anywhere else. They had visited their grandfather and the children had gotten their only presents for that year—a coloring book and crayons each. Their parents asked my parents for help. I sat in our warm car, feeling uneasy. Here we were, talking with strangers at a place where people avert their eyes and pass by quickly. I wanted to help, but wanted more to stay in the known and get on home. I assumed my parents would call for help or give the family some money, but then, our car doors opened and that family of four got in. We drove them into the night, to their small town, to their mobile home. It was humble, but warm and dry and safer than a parking lot off the highway. That was Christmas—a moment of need and risk and trust and hope all around, maybe a little like another so long ago.
Prayer: Father, thank you for your son, Jesus, who showed us how to live and love. Let us remember in the hustle of the season of His birth that our blessings are vast and beg to be shared. Let us always feel your safety and grace and let us share that with our neighbors wherever they may be.
The Close Family:
Lee and Gloria Close
Grant, Mary Grace, Jane, Grant, and Mary Close
Joel, Rebekah, James, and Caroline LeMon
About the Contributor
Written by Rev. Rebekah Close LeMon, Executive Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta.