by Fr Duncan McVicar on 31/12/2012 -
One Christmas we had an interesting experience that I would like to share. Halfway through December we were doing the regular evening things when there was a knock at the door. We opened it to find a small package with a beautiful ceramic lamb inside. We looked at the calendar and realized that the twelve days of Christmas were beginning! We waited excitedly for the next night’s surprise and only then, with the gift of a matching shepherd, did we realized that the lamb was part of a nativity set. Each night we grew more excited to see what piece we would receive. Each was exquisitely beautiful. The children kept trying to catch the givers as we slowing built the scene at the manager and began to focus on Christ’s birth.On Christmas Eve, all the pieces were in place, but the Baby Jesus. My 12 year-old son really wanted to catch our benefactors and began to devise all kinds of ways to trap them. He ate his dinner in the mini-van watching and waiting, but no one came. Finally we called him in to go through our family’s Christmas Eve traditions. But before the children went to bed we checked the front step — No Baby Jesus! Somehow something was missing that Christmas Eve. There was a feeling that things weren’t complete. The children went to bed and I put out Christmas, but before I went to bed I again checked to see if the Baby Jesus had come — no, the doorstep was empty. Missing that piece of the set seemed to have an odd effect. At least it changed my focus. I knew there were presents under the tree for me and I was excited to watch the children open their gifts, but first on my mind was the feeling of waiting for the ceramic Christ Child. We had opened just about all of the presents when one of the children found one more for me buried deep beneath the branches of the tree. He handed me a small package from a former parishioner. This lady used to come to Church now and again. She had no family and she didn’t get many gifts to open, so I had always given her a small package – new dish towels, a good book – not much, but something for her to open. I was touched when at Church on the day before Christmas, she had given me this small package, saying it was just a token of her love and appreciation. As I took off the ribbon, I remembered my friendship with her and was filled with gratitude for knowing her and for her kindness in giving me a gift. But as the paper fell away, I began to tremble and cry. There in the small brown box was the Baby Jesus. He had come! I realized on that Christmas Day that Christ will come into our lives in ways that we don’t expect. The spirit of Christ comes into our hearts as we serve one another. We had waited and watched for him to come, expecting the dramatic “knock at the door and scurrying of feet” but he came in a small, simple package that represented service, friendship, gratitude, and love. This experience taught me that the beginning of the true spirit of Christmas comes as we open our hearts and actively focus on the Saviour. More than that I want to open my heart to him all year that I may see him again.