Luke 2.12 NRSV

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. (Luke 2.12 NRSV)

Beatrice Stevenson describes a Christmas she spent with her husband, Dr. Theodore Stevenson, in the mission hospital in western India. Dr. Stevenson was a visiting surgeon at the Miraj Medical Center. Far from home and her children, Mrs. Stevenson became a patient herself in the Miraj hospital. The hot, dirty, smelly days made her depressed and homesick, and she felt she could never celebrate Christmas in such an alien place.

The Christmas Eve festivities at the mission hospital, however, made that Christmas one of the most memorable Beatrice had ever experienced.

The Christian staff presented a lovely pageant, complete with live animals and even a real baby borrowed from an Indian mother in the maternity ward. The crowd of townspeople followed the proceedings with interest. After the usual cast of characters had gathered around the manger, and the choir sang a carol, a young woman wearing a white sari and a nurse's cap stepped onto the stage and knelt before the manger. The nurse told the audience how she enjoyed serving the Lord as a Christian nurse.

She was followed by an Indian workman carrying a hoe, one of the maintenance staff, who mounted the platform. This man knelt before the manger, then announced to the startled audience that he had once had leprosy and had been doomed to a life of begging. He continued, telling how the caring Christian medical staff had treated his disease and performed surgery on his once-useless hands.

What a great witness!

Thank you, thank you, Lord Jesus. The world may not understand our celebration of Christmas. But it gives us chance to ponder the the witness and memory of Mary and Joseph and their child and our savior, Jesus Christ.

Thanks, Lord Jesus, for coming into our world to become our savior. In your name, Amen.
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