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Our Weekly Devotional

A Moment in Bethlehem

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 • Randy Kilgore • General
And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. --Matthew 2:10
And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. --Matthew 2:10

Every year, even as an adult, there was always a moment when the joy of Christmas leaped out of nowhere to surprise me with its warmth, its meaning, its comfort. But there was this one year...

(She started crying gently as I spoke... Puzzled, I closed the door to my office to shield her from the prying eyes of other workers.)

So far, it was shaping up to be a pretty dreary Christmas. Times were hard for the company. Even the boss, a temperamental owner with a heart of gold, couldn't find a way to eke out more than meager Christmas bonuses for the workers. It was my job to break the news.

In the past, Christmas was a fat time around the firm, with workers basking in lots of extra money granted by an owner eager to share his good fortune. This year, even the Thanksgiving turkey barely made the cut. So, when I contemplated the round of meetings ahead of me, I was getting pretty grumpy. Department by department, I visited with them, describing the lean times they could already see in order to explain why the bonuses would be smaller.

Some of the "newbies" grumbled, but I was mildly surprised at how the long-term workers-the ones who had been there for the fat times-rallied to the defense of the boss. Not loudly, mind you, for they were hoping a secret cache of funds might be squirreled away for bonuses. Still, their less-than-expected disappointment made my task easier.

But that wasn't the moment Christmas broke through...

In one of the last departments, a manager raised his hand. This is it, I thought, knowing the manager's affinity for coarse language and gruff reactions. "I'm wondering," he said, "if I could let my bonus go to someone else?" He proceeded to mention an older worker in the firm. "Me, too," chirped another worker. Like a ripple on a pond, the generous gesture filled the room as one after another voluntarily surrendered their meager extras to make a not-so-meager gesture to a coworker.

That was it; I thought...there's the moment! Little did I realize, the moment was only beginning.

(She started crying gently as I spoke. Puzzled, I closed the door to my office to shield her from the prying eyes of other workers. This was the worker that others wanted to honor with their gifts. At a loss for words-and I'm rarely at a loss for words-I handed her a tissue and waited. So far, all I'd done is hand her a bonus check.

In a quiet voice, she then told me how she got up that morning trying not to be angry or frightened. She understood, she said, that she wasn't as fast as she used to be, wasn't as useful as the younger workers. She supposed it was only right that she be let go. So she mustered her strength when she got the note the night before asking her to see me the next morning.

She came that day expecting to be laid off!)

This was the moment. Through the gentle tears and in the quiet voice, a soul expecting to be swept aside gave voice to the essence of grace. Expecting to be discarded, instead she discovered not only grace, but the greater joy of being so treasured that others would give up something of themselves to make her days not merely tolerable, but joyful.

And that is the moment of Bethlehem, when shepherds toiling under Roman rule, when sinners toiling under the crush of darkness, when wise men following a star, discovered "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus), shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved."-John 3:16-17.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive its King! 
---Randy Kilgore

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