Friday, December 10, 2010

Worth Remembering

The meaning of Christmas took on an entirely new meaning for me two decades ago. It was in the very last row of a church where I raised my hand with all eyes closed and heads bowed. Years later, at the same church, I shared a story by Ruth Seamands (a missionary to India) for a special Christmas message. Perhaps you will agree that it is worth remembering.

It was Christmas Eve in Korea. An expectant mother walked through the snow to the home of a missionary friend where she knew she could find help. A short way down the road from the mission house was a deep gully spanned by a bridge. As the young woman stumbled forward, birth pains overcame her. She realized she could go no farther. She crawled under the bridge. There alone between the trestles she gave birth to a baby boy. She had nothing with her except the heavy padded clothes she was wearing. One by one she removed the pieces of her clothing and wrapped them around her tiny son around and around, like a cumbersome cocoon. Then, finding a discarded piece of burlap, she pulled it over herself, and lay exhausted beside her baby.

The next morning the missionary drove across the bridge in her Jeep to take a Christmas basket to a Korean family. On the way back, as she neared the bridge, the Jeep sputtered and ran out of gas. Getting out of the Jeep she started to walk across the bridge, and heard a faint cry beneath her. She crawled under the bridge to investigate. There she found the tiny baby, warm but hungry, and the young mother frozen to death. The missionary took the baby home and cared for him. As the boy grew, he often asked his adopted mother to tell him the story of how she had found him. On Christmas Day, on his 12th birthday, he asked the missionary to take him to his mother's grave.

Once there he asked her to wait a distance away while he went to pray. The boy stood beside the grave with a bowed head, weeping. Then he began to disrobe. As the astonished missionary watched, the boy took off his warm clothing, piece by piece, and laid it on his mother's grave. Surely he won't take off all his clothing, the missionary thought. He'll freeze! But the boy stripped himself of everything, putting all his warm clothing on the grave. He knelt naked and shivering in the snow. As the missionary went to him to help him dress again, she heard him cry out to the mother he never knew:  "Were you colder than this for me, my mother?" And he wept bitterly.

When Christ came, he stripped himself of every royal garment and entered into our world of cold indifference. He clothed each of us with forgiveness, mercy and hope. And then He died of a broken heart. What broke His heart? Surely, it was the long history of men making slaves of other men. It was centuries of cruelty, hurt and suffering.  It was the cry of millions of orphans and the sight of starving children that He could hear and see in the years to come. He knew that we would forget Him. Not His name, or His message. Rather, we would forget that we are called to be different. Different like Him. 

Different like Him is giving, going and grieving for the least of these. To be honest, the way that we spend our time, talents and treasures looks like depraved indifference sometimes. Watch the video below. Then ask yourself  "what have I done to help the least of these?". The question is worth remembering as Christmas approaches. 

This video can be seen in a larger format on A Child's Hope Int'l .

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