by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro
This simple straw Christmas star represents love. Yes, there are many symbols we could draw from it of Jesus who is the ultimate visible expression of God’s love. Yet, we are the ones who represent God’s love on earth today and by the power of the Spirit we pass this one to the other and back again. Never perfectly, but especially when with pure intent, the Lord works through it to communicate His love in practical ways to a weary world.
God is spiritual. Yes. But this God who made us and is always with us, is immensely practical. He wants to meet even more practical needs if we will just choose to listen and have courage to obey.
This straw is a 44 yr old kiss of such love and care, which the Lord allowed me to receive as a still-treasured gift when I was 17 and far from home in 1976. I was a foreign exchange student living in Germany with a family I had come to love in a village in the southwest. At every quarter of an hour the village church bell would sound, marking off the passing hours. On Sundays the sound of multiple bells would begin tolling about ten minutes before weekly Mass. From out of their homes parishioners would stream and walk to Mass.
During Advent that year I was invited to the rectory for afternoon coffee time (which meant delicious German Christmas cookies and stollen too). As the pastor and I had a nice chat, his housekeeper entered and brought a gift for me. It was a collection of star ornaments she had made with traditional straw and string. I had never seen ornaments such as these before coming to Germany and was thrilled to have some. I was touched even more deeply by Fräulein Kirchner’s gift.
44 years later, though a bit worse for wear, these still hold places of honor every year on our Christmas tree. And every year I remember Fräulein Kirchner and her gift to me. And how loved it made me feel that an almost-stranger in a foreign country had thought of me and taken the time to make this gift.
44 years and still I remember. She seemed as if she could be well into her 70s when she made the stars. She passed into the arms of Jesus many years ago. But an act of kindness which may have seemed small to her and certainly in measured small in a world focused on larger-seeming affairs, continues to loom large for me. An act of love. A gift of time and talent given freely. She had seen this foreign American and chosen to be kind.
Kindness. Perhaps the largest thing we can do. And perhaps that with some of the broadest, longest reaching effect. Simple kindness one to the other and back again. Until everyone receives and each one gives. Over and over. This spreads the love of Christ. Individuals are changed by it. You. Me. The world. One act of kindness at a time.
Check out ONLY JESUS REMAINS–Christmastime devotions for tending wounded hearts. Here on the blog or listen to the audio recordings on YouTube.
Listen to the Christmas Worship album. Now online.
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