Throughout the Old Testament, God’s kindness and mercy flows through the text, like this verse in the Psalms: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”1
But what happened 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem took God’s love and mercy for humankind to an entirely new level! God offered His only Son to the world, who showed Himself to us as a weak and helpless child and chose to take on human form in order to save humanity.
One part of the Nativity story that has held particular fascination for me is the visit of the wise men, also known as the magi.
Matthew is the only Gospel that mentions these mysterious men, and he gives only scant details, simply calling them “wise men” and describing the gifts they brought: gold, frankincense and myrrh.1
Love—this is My special gift for you. Love that knows no boundaries. Love that does not judge you by the color of your skin, the way you look, or how you speak. Love that gives. Love that shares. Love that cares. Love that is vibrant, warm, and kind. Love that is unconditional and forever.
This Christmas season the world aches and groans because of the losses and tragedies of the year. Many lives have been broken, and many dreams have been shattered. People the world over need to see the light of love that came down on that very first Christmas to brighten their lives, about which the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”1
On the night of Jesus’ birth, angels appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. “Glory to God in the highest,” they proclaimed, “and on earth peace, good will toward men!” These days, many of us may think of peace and good will as rather abstract virtues. Nevertheless, they are the secret ingredient that give Christmas traditions their meaning.
For many millions of us, this year has been unlike any we’ve ever had. Not since World War II has so much of the world’s population been so affected by the same crisis. Those who haven’t felt the virus’ full impact and the worldwide economic downturn themselves are surrounded by people who have. Manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers whose annual bottom lines depend on Christmas sales are wondering if the holiday season will make up for previous losses. People who have lost their businesses worry about their own families and those of their former employees. Out-of-work parents wonder what kind of Christmas they will be able to give their children.