Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2 NLT
Many years ago, we hosted a Muslim exchange student from the tiny nation of Kosovo. Our student, Bardhyl was supposed to have been placed with another family, but after he was already on the plane headed for New York, the family who had originally agreed to take him had to back out due to a family emergency. Long story short, we stepped in, and our nice quiet empty-nest life was invaded by a fun-loving kid who had come to the United States to party.
Now in all fairness, though Bardhyl had been a bit spoiled by his mom, they all had all been through a lot. When war had come to their country, they had evacuated and lived in Holland for a few years, before returning home to find their house had been ransacked by soldiers who had even stolen the family pictures off the walls and made a general mess. So, Bardhyl was filled with funny contradictions. On one hand, he was mature and thoughtful beyond most of the American kids his age, on the other, he wasn’t used to rules – like no smoking in our house! One night, about midnight, we thought we heard a noise outside, so I got up and looked out the bedroom window. In the darkness it looked like someone was standing just outside our home. I could just make out the glow of the coal of a cigarette. But as Nancy came to join me and we looked a little closer we saw that, it was Bardhyl, leaning out his window. He had kept the rule of not smoking in the house, because though his feet were inside, his upper torso and cigarette were outside! Oh, how we laughed, as we lay back down and went back to sleep. Bardhyl did all the things any teenager who was 4,000 miles away from home might do. He skipped school with some less than desirable buddies (and got caught!), he fell behind in his classwork and spent way too much of his parent’s money on designer sneakers. But we loved him and took him to church, baseball games and our family Thanksgiving get-together. When Christmas rolled around, we were delighted that Bardhyl’s mom and younger brother flew out to join us. They arrived the day before Christmas Eve – just in time for a snowstorm. They were only able to get out of the hotel when I drove over with my 4-wheel drive, to get them. After they arrived, brushed off the snow and had warmed up a bit, we got them some hot chocolates and sat down in the living room. As they looked around at our many decorations, I asked if they knew why we put up the tree and exchanged gifts. “No, we don’t know much about it, we don’t have this holiday in Kosovo” Bardhly’s mom politely answered.
“Would you like for me to explain it to you.” I eagerly asked.
“Please. We’d really like to learn.” she answered with a smile
So, I pointed to the top of our tree and said, “That star stands for the star that the wise men followed when they went to Bethlehem.” I was about to continue, but from the blank looks on their faces, I realized that they had also never heard of the wise men! What a blessing it was that afternoon to go back and tell the entire story of Christmas, to people who had never heard it before. In fact, I still love telling the stories of Christmas, both to those who have never heard and those who have heard them a thousand times. It all began with a star, a promise and a child and it ends with Christ the Savior, who came to give His life for ours. This year my stories come in a large print book called, “The Christas Star”. It includes 30 days of short, down to earth devotionals, as well as a section at the end where you can write down your own favorite Christmas story. The Christmas Star is also available in both eBook as well as standard print on Amazon. If you would be interested, here is the link to the large print version. Have a blessed weekend everybody!