Ever strike up a casual conversation with someone in the checkout line and wind up talking about Jesus, then notice the encounter lifted your spirit changing the tone of your day? Or perhaps receive a call from a wrong number leading to an opportunity to pray for the caller?
I had a recent conversation with Mr. Vern McC…, a gentleman I had never encountered before, the initial contact was made through another individual. He began the conversation saying we had something in common; I was curious and listened on as he stated “we both love God”, that was a good opening line. What followed was a surprise, he stated “we both have a cat that scratches at our door”; at this point I start laughing knowing instantly his reference to an Ambassador article I wrote nearly two years earlier (January 2016).
In our conversation I learned he lights a 125’ tree topped with a seven foot star. The tradition began in 1983 as a surprise for his first wife when he brought her home from the hospital where she had been undergoing cancer treatment. Though she passed a few years later, the tree lit for his first love three and a half decades ago, has become a Christmas tradition remembering Jesus – his greatest Love. The first Saturday of December, rain or shine, finds a growing gathering of individuals for the tree lighting; there are hymns that include Silent Night while Mr. McC… plays the trumpet, a message by guest speakers focused on the birth of Christ; the joyful celebration on the true meaning of the season continues over hot apple cider, cocoa, cookies, and munchies.
What would cause someone to faithfully continue a tradition for so many years, in all sorts of weather; Mr. McC… gives a few reasons, first he feels it is necessary to remember how God takes care of him, including giving him another perfect wife; the star on top of the tree is a guiding light for those coming home in the dark – when they see it they know they are almost there. He also hopes the stars’ light will have a spiritual significance – just as the Wise Men followed the star to baby Jesus – that perhaps in some way the star on his tree will guide a wayward soul not just physically home but also to Jesus.
This Christmas season let’s challenge ourselves to step out and initiate an exchange as we wait somewhere in a line and share the love of Christ in a casual conversation, you just might be the guiding light showing someone the way to Jesus, lifting a burden with a kind or caring word, or make their day in some small way – perhaps even your own day. Chance encounters may just be a divine set up opportunity.
Hmm, on second thought – let’s carry it beyond the Christmas season, after all – isn’t Jesus Christ Good News year round.