Every Christmas Eve at our house, the doorbell rings at about 7 p.m. Our children run to the door, knowing they will find four brightly wrapped gifts sitting on the porch. There is no card, but everyone knows, these little packages are from The Blessing People.
Who are the "The Blessing People"? We don’t know – at least that’s what my mother told me when she started this tradition. But we have a good idea.
Jesus' birth story has lots of familiar faces. Many of us played with the characters in the nativity set – Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the sheep. Even when we were warned "Don’t touch!"
But what about the people who didn't make it into the nativity set, the gospel retellings, or even the "JESUS" film version of the miraculous birth?
There may have been many who helped Mary, Joseph and Jesus during His difficult and momentous birth who aren't mentioned in the biblical account. There could have been people who cleaned out the barn, brought or sold the family food, and provided protection as they fled to Egypt. The list of possible kindnesses is endless.
Unseen and uncelebrated, "The Blessing People" are no less important to the story than the shepherds. (We lost one of our nativity shepherds last year; we're still looking for that guy.)
"The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood" is how Eugene Peterson puts it in John 1:14 of "The Message." For you and me, that story is still unfolding—in our neighborhoods and in our world.
How often we live among our neighbors without knowing them. We give a quick wave to someone at the mailbox or a courteous, "Beautiful day isn’t it?" then we're ducking inside and closing the garage door before any meaningful conversations occur.
What opportunities to be a blessing do I forfeit each day? Opportunities to be Jesus to my neighbors, Jesus to the world.
Each of us has the often-underestimated privilege of being "The Blessing People" to the dark world around us. Cleaning barns (I mean, our homes), providing food to the needy, serving the unwelcomed ... these can be our roles in the greatest story ever told – even if we don't have a starring role in the nativity scene.
Who is God prompting you to bless this holiday season? What are a few ways that we can step out and share Christ this Christmas season? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.