Thursday, December 11, 2008
An UN-usual Christmas ... by Maureen
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11
The sun was rising and the chill of the day could be seen on the interior walls of my apartment where ice was forming over the brown floral, soviet-era wallpaper. Gently rubbing the frost from the window pane revealed a bustling world outside. Silhouettes glided down the ice-covered sidewalks ... people rushing to catch their buses, precisely wrapped in layers of black fur and wool with only rosy cheeks and glassy eyes peeking through.
Today was December 25th ... Christmas Day! All over the world people were waking up this morning to find neatly wrapped presents under the tree, the smell of turkey roasting in the oven and hot chocolate warming on the stove. Yet, when I looked out the window I couldn't help but think, Something is missing. Today was just another day, not a holiday, not Christmas, but another usual day. I was off to the university to teach my class.
A few weeks earlier the department head asked me to put on a "special" play for the English students. Not having any drama experience, the only play I could even imagine was the play I had seen every year since I was a child -- the Christmas story! Yes! We were going to do the Christmas story! I carefully typed up the entire Biblical account of the birth of Jesus, gave the scripts to the "star" students, and brought in a nativity set to explain the story further. It was a beginner's play -- no props, no costumes, no music or effects. I was a bit nervous to imagine all the teachers, faculty, and the rector of the university coming into my class to see my novice "work" -- surely they would send me packing after this!
All my fears melted away that morning when I arrived in my classroom to find an amazing sight -- a fully clad Mary, Joseph, Gabriel, Wise Men, a baby Jesus, and some shepherds. My students had taken the scripts home, studied the birth of Jesus, and decided to create the costumes themselves! They wanted their fellow students REALLY to understand the story!!! As people crowded into the classroom to watch, I carefully jotted a few vocabulary words on the board for reference (Messiah, Savior, salvation, prophecy, etc). For the next 30 minutes my non-believing students shared the gospel message with over 100 of their fellow students, faculty, and the rector of the university. For all of them, this was the FIRST time they had ever heard this story!
The play was a success -- not because of anything I had done, but because our Lord chose to use that time and place to reveal HIMSELF to those HE loves! Afterward, I not only retained my teaching job, but the "powers that be" asked for me to do the play every year! WOW! Even in a dark land that does not know our Savior, He uses creative means to call people to Himself! From that small group of students, two became believers that year, the first student Bible study was formed (and now has grown to a fellowship of over 100 students), out of which one student continued on to become the first "national" staff of an evangelical student group -- to this day still leading others to Christ!
That Christmas there were no decorated trees, carefully wrapped presents, or golden turkeys ... just the pure and precious gift of the message of our Savior, a message being given to those who had never heard before!