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Advent Devotional December 23: Written by Jeanette Heard in 1988

One of the great joys of Christmas when working in the SMILE program is seeing the blessed season every year as if it were for the first time through the eyes of some young Japanese women who have never before heard the glorious story. 

Imagine reading for the first time in adulthood the beautiful passage from the second chapter of Luke and hearing about the journey to Bethlehem. The reason one sees a star on the Christmas tree? Because of the star, the shepherds saw and the kings followed. Why are there angels on our mantels? Because of the songs they sang that holy night. Why a creche or manger scene on your table? Because of the place where the baby was born. Why do we give gifts? Because of the gold and frankincense and myrrh brought by the Magi. Why are there wreaths on the door? Because the circle reminds us of God’s love which has no beginning and no ending. Why do we use holly and pine? Because they are evergreen or never die, as God’s forgiveness for us never ends. 

Think of taking someone to hear the majestic music of Handel’s Messiah and explaining the ringing words of “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” or recounting the reason the audience stands as the chorus peals out its soul-stirring Hallelujahs of praise and adoration. It makes every moment of celebration of the holidays more meaningful. 

I shall always remember one lovely young student of mine who first heard the wonderful story. I felt because of her limited English that perhaps she was getting very little of what I was trying to explain. But as I finished, her eyelids blinked tears as she murmured, “I see, I see. He must have loved us very much.” She had understood enough. My Christmas was complete.


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