It was almost Christmas week, when merriment and expectation should mingle with the aroma of great foods and family gatherings.  But that was not the case the Christmas my husband left us.  There was no Christmas cheer in our home, no money for gifts or even a tree.  My children were fighting over nothing and everything while I spent most of my time crying.

One day, there was a knock at our door and I reluctantly went to answer it.  There stood a couple from our new church.  They had a big, beautiful Christmas tree in their hands and smiles on their faces.  “Merry Christmas” they said, “we wanted to gift you with your tree this year, hope that’s ok”.  I somehow stammered out a “yes” and a “thank you”.  They asked if we needed decorations and I replied we had decorations, we just didn’t have a tree yet (and we wouldn’t have had a tree without them!).

When I read the Christmas story in Matthew 2, it often reminds me of that Christmas past.  What was it that sent the wise men, bearing gifts, on a journey to find the Christ child?  Was it the star, the story, the curiosity, or the desire for a friendly ally?  We will never know and it doesn’t really matter.  God just desires we each seek Him, and that we each find Him.

These wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Odd gifts, great meaning!  We need to lay down our treasures, so that God can give us His treasure.  The gold represents the provision and safety of God; He knew Joseph and Mary would have to flee to a safe place and they would need money to get there.  Frankincense is simply incense, an aroma, representing the aroma of God.  It would follow them wherever they went, ‘Immanuel, God with us’.  And finally the myrrh, a rich anointing oil.  I think of the anointing of God, poured over us to sooth, heal, and restore.  Joseph and Mary were eventually restored to their homeland and their family.

A few days later, I was working my part-time job as a janitor at the church.  As I vacuumed the hallway, I came around a corner to see my husband standing there.  My heart leapt for a moment; was he coming home, would we have a Christmas together after all?!  He handed me a packet of papers, my divorce papers, and he wanted my signature right there in the hallway of the church.  Really God, Christmas week?!  I went home with tears in my eyes, looked at our Christmas tree void of gifts, and cried in my room.

There was another knock at our door, and again I answered it reluctantly.  (I wonder if Mary was reluctant to answer her door the day the wise men appeared with their gifts?)  There stood a woman from the church with a huge box.  “Merry Christmas” she said.  “Our small-group wanted to bless the children with gifts this year, would that be ok”?  I was able to stammer another “yes, thank you”.  I arranged the gifts under our beautiful Christmas tree, and saw hope return to the eyes of my children.  Several times that week I had a knock at our door and more gifts were given to us.  Soon we had so many gifts under our tree they spilled out to the sides and across the floor.  My children were now very excited for Christmas to come.

Jesus brought hope to the Israelites in their darkest time as well, a time they felt abandoned by God.  The story of Christmas is a reminder that God hasn’t forgotten us, regardless of how we feel!  It’s a story of Hope.

If you are hurting this Christmas, I hope this story is a Christmas reminder that God still loves you.  He continuously offers you the greatest gift of all, Jesus, Savior, Provider, Protector, Immanuel, Counselor, Comforter, Healer!  I hope you choose to receive, or maybe just remember, His gift this Christmas season.

For those having a great year, you can be the blessing someone else needs.  Invite the lonely neighbor, single parent, or single adult to your home for Christmas; give gifts that matter to those in need; let the aroma of God follow you to work or school, and throughout your home.

Merry Christmas!