Today’s Reading: I Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
When our son David was born prematurely, the volunteers at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center gave us a small pillow with his birth information as a token gift. He was too tiny to care much about it then; yet, that pillow became quite a comfort to him later on in life. As David grew, he proudly carried his birth pillow everywhere he went! We had to arm wrestled that child to give the pillow up just long enough so Mommy could wash it. He would stand by the dryer with crocodile tears running down his face, waiting impatiently for the dry buzzer to sound. One of my favorite photographs of David was when he proudly graduated from preschool. He stood underneath the big oak tree in front of our church parsonage in his yellow cap and gown, grinning from ear to ear, hugging the stuffing out of his pillow. When he began elementary school, David’s pillow remained hidden in the bottom of his backpack, just underneath his feet at the foot of the desk.
A small, fluffy pillow can make a big difference to a hurting child. I’ve been pondering what kind of comfort the baby Jesus experienced in the manger the very first winter of his earthly life. When his mother Mary was not nursing him, or holding the babe in her arms, I wondered whether she fashioned a small pillow from the hay and swaddling clothes, to keep the infant Savior comforted throughout those long winter nights. Tonight when I attend A Night in Bethlehem at Faith United Methodist Church in St. Charles, Missouri, I will get to relive what it may have been like the night God sent His only Son to save us. When the shepherds came and wise men gave their treasures to the newborn babe, I knew what gift I would give to the baby in the manger.
Our five-year-old granddaughter, Emily, recently spent eight days in the hospital, following surgery to correct a very similar birth defect that our son David was born with. A group of volunteers at Children’s Hospital gave gifts of handmade hope and love for each of its wee patients. When Emily was admitted, she was given the cutest little handmade pillow to hold after she woke up from surgery. Whenever she would cough, Emily held that pillow against her belly to comfort her through the pain. As a grandmother, I relived many of the memories I had with my own son, watching and waiting as our Emily recovered.
When I arrived in Arnold early Saturday morning, Emily was sleeping peacefully in her bedroom upstairs. When she spotted me sitting on the sofa along with her brothers, Emily became very excited. “Nanny,” she said, “I have a surprise present for you! Close your eyes and stay right there.” She returned shortly with a small gift in her hands. “I want to give this to you, Nanny,” she said. In her hands was the tiny pillow from the hospital. “This is for your sore shoulder; it will make you feel better too.” Emily was quite right, as I took the pillow and pressed it tightly between my neck and shoulder. What great comfort I received from my own grandchild that day!
How such a small, tangible gift can bring comfort to a hurting world is hard to imagine. It is the Savior’s love, flowing down from our Heavenly Father above. What gift will you bring to the manger? I’m giving Jesus my heart, for it is all I have to give. And I think I’ll take a small heart-shaped pillow along, to comfort the baby in the manger.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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