Well, Christmas is around the corner. Tis the season of giving. It is time for dinners, jingles, carols, and everything else Christmassy. Everyone always seems so happy.
Not everyone. Not always.
My name is Jim, and I was born around 50 years ago in a little city called Perth.
It was Friday, December last year, and I managed to finish work early. My wife asked me to buy a roast chicken on the way home.
“Jim, you finish early today. Have you got a special plan?” Derrick, my boss, asked me.
“Ahh .. buy a roast chicken, then probably clean up the gutters,” I said.
“Not going to the shop for some presents?”
“No, I am not into gifts.”
“Yeah, my wife is not into it either.”
“Not even something small?”
“Well, I am not really into Christmas.”
Derrick was a lovely person. He had known me for almost ten years. He knew why I hated Christmas celebration so much. Around three years ago, my only son, Clement, was killed in a fishing accident. Clement was mentally disabled. He went fishing on a boat with his cousin. Somehow, they both decided to dive, and, he never came to the surface. It was highly unusual, a freak accident.
The accident happened just a few weeks before Christmas, before his birthday. He was born on Christmas day.
We did not celebrate Christmas that year and never did since.
I parked my car and started to walk to the shop to get the chicken. It was windy and dusty. I saw a homeless man sitting in front of the shop. He looked like he had not showered for weeks (or months).
As I stepped into the shop, I could not help thinking that I knew that homeless man. His face was familiar.
I got the excellent, toasty, roast chicken, and went back home.
My wife, Joyce, was waiting for me at home. She was making salads to go with the chicken.
“Ahh you’re finally here,” she said.
“Yes, I am here, finally,” I said, not sure what she meant.
“My phone is nowhere to be seen. I was going to tell you to get milk and coffee as well.”
“Ooh yes. Ok, I can drive back to get those.”
“Sorry about that.”
“No problem at all.”
I went back to the shop. The shopkeeper recognized me immediately.
“You’re back,” he said.
“Yes, forgot the milk and coffee,” I replied.
“Well, we cannot live without coffee.”
“Hold on, I almost forgot. I have something for you.” He handed me a hand-written note and I read it quickly.
“Where did you get this note?” I asked, with my eyes wide open. “I used to say this to my son, Clement.”
“A homeless man asked me to give it to you,” he said. “He was sitting in front of the shop before.”
I rushed out of the shop.
He was not there anymore. The homeless man was gone.
I went home. I did not tell Joyce about the note. We had dinner, watched some shows on TV and started to chat.
“I feel like we should do something different this year,” she said to me.
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“Well, it’s been three years since the accident.”
“Don’t you think we should move on?”
I didn’t say anything. I tried to smile.
“It’s been hard for me too,” she said.
“I know,” I said quietly.
“But we can’t do this forever.”
We went to church on Sunday.
I kept thinking about the note. “Should I tell Joyce about it?”
The preacher was saying something about an afterlife. About how our life on earth is only temporary. And how Jesus came down to earth so that we would have eternal life.
“This is what Christmas is all about,” he said from the podium. “Christmas is not just presents. It is about the birth of a saviour.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
After the service, our pastor Paul, came around to talk to us.
“Jim and Joyce, how are you two doing?” Paul asked.
“Ah well, we’re still here,” I replied.
“Thank you for the sermon, Paul,” Joyce said.
“Yes, I thought about you two as I was preaching.” Paul pulled us aside. “I know things have been very tough in the last few years. But there are greater things up there in Heaven. Christmas is about hope for eternal life. Jesus came to the world to bring hope and salvation.”
“Yes, that’s true, Paul,” I said. “Hope for eternal life. I like the sound of that.”
I decided then it was time for Joyce to know about the note I got from the homeless man.
We went home, and I asked her to sit with me.
“What’s going on, Jim?” she sounded a bit worried.
“Well, I have this note. A homeless man gave it to me.”
“A homeless man?”
“Yes, he was sitting in front of the shop where I got the chicken on Friday.”
“I’ve been wanting to tell you about it.” I tried to calm myself. “But only today after hearing Paul’s sermon that I had the courage.”
“It sounds serious, what is it?”
“Remember what we used to tell Clement when he was still a little boy?”
“Look, here’s the note.”
Someone else was born on Christmas. He was born in a poor family but went on to be the saviour of the world. You can be great too, Clement. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Underneath the note there was a small writing: “I am safe with Him now”
Merry Christmas 2018.
Thank you for reading.
I hope your Christmas is filled with heavenly miracle, joy and blessings.