|Of Christmas Eve, Martin Luther once wrote, “There are some of us who think to ourselves, ‘If I had only been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby. I would have washed his linen. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!’ Yes, we would say that. And we say it because we know now how great Christ is. But had we been there at that time, I don’t think we would have done any better than the people of Bethlehem.”
Martin Luther has a good point. And I’m afraid he’s got my number. I’d like to think that had I seen a young couple wandering into town, the wife ready to deliver and the couple having nowhere to go, I would have said to the innkeeper, “Now see here, you must have a room somewhere!” Or if that didn’t help, I’d like to believe that I would have turned to Joseph and said, “Please come with me to my house.” Or had I encountered Mary and Joseph with their baby in the stable, I’d like to think I would have brought candles to brighten up the place, swept the floor, sprayed Lysol on the manger…anything to spruce up things to welcome the newborn.
But Martin Luther was right. Now that we realize who that baby was, sure we would roll up our sleeves to make a difference.
Here’s the irony: why don’t we do it now? Jesus says that whatever kindness we extend to any neighbor in need, we do it to him. We can help that homeless couple with nowhere to stay. We can lend the pregnant woman a hand. We can make a difference for a baby in need. We can use our time, prayers, finances, creative thinking, and our homes. And the Lord will count it all as service to himself.
In the rush to accomplish everything on my list of tasks, Lord, don’t let me hurry past you in the form of a needy person. Give me eyes to see you, and a heart of compassion. Give me the spirit—your Spirit—of Christmas.