Christmas Eve

by Matthew B. Harper

He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intervene; Then His own arm brought Him victory, and His righteousness upheld Him. (Isaiah 59:16)

Tonight is the calm in the storm. The presents are wrapped, the food is put aside, the traveling is over, and tomorrow is Christmas. Tonight is the night for celebration, for worship, and for community.

I love stuff. On the street I was a guy with lots of tools, lots of clothes, bookcases full, and a kitchen overflowing. I didn’t just love stuff, I loved my stuff. The world seemed to be teaching me that what I owned was the measure of my life, and I listened with both ears.

I’m in prison now, and most of my things have been long given away to friends and family, passed on to those people who can use them. But some of the things are being kept and stored by my family, and that is important to me. It is a type of promise to me, a promise that there will again come a Christmas when I can celebrate at home.

In prison I am not sustained by stuff, or by the memories of something I used to have. I am ministered to, sustained by, and loved by my family. The people that I love, if they are family of my birth or family of my choice, are the most precious things in my life.

Because the real measure of our lives is not the stuff, it is the people that are in it. The measure of our life is not what we have, it is how we love. I miss some of my stuff, (a favorite sweatshirt, a great CD, my bed) but I would not trade the full measure of everything that I own for one single of my friends.

After all, it is only stuff – and this is about love.

Once in royal David’s city stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby in a manger for His bed: Mary was that mother mild, Jesus Christ her little child – (Hymn 102)

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