As I am writing this article, Christmas is still two weeks away. I am thinking what the birth of Jesus means to us. I am pondering a well-known verse that we often read and sing during Christmas season, which is Isaiah 9:6, “for to us a child is born”. I’ve recently read George Eliot’s novel “Silas Marner”, discovering that the protagonists’ story has helped me understand the story of birth of Jesus Christ.
Silas Marner was once a devout, kind, and honest Christian in a Christian congregation of a large town. He was falsely accused by his best friend of stealing church fund. The pastor and members of the congregation did not believe in court and judge. They thought only God knew who was the thief. so they agree to draw lot to decide what had happened. Silas knelt with them, sure that God would vindicate him. However, the lots said Silas had stolen the money. He could not understand why God had refuse to help him. As a result, his trust in God, in people, and in church had broken. With a wounded and bitter heart, he left the town and moved to live in a small cottage near a remote village. For 15 years, he lived a secluded life, repeatedly rejecting the invitations of the village people church services or other social events. Being a good and hardworking weaver, he made good money by selling linens to the villagers. Piles of gold coins in his cottage grew higher and higher as time went by. Gold become his only friend and comforter. Like a thirsty man who needed a drink, his daily ritual after a day’s hard work was taking two bags of gold coins from hiding place to look at them, feel them, and count them.
One day his heart was broken again when his gold coins were all stolen. After the incident, he developed a new habit: he sometimes opened his door and look out, hoping his money would somehow miraculously come back or that someone would come with information about the thief. Around midnight of New Year’s Eve, when his shortsighted eyes looked at the floor in front of the fire, he seemed to see gold there. His heart beat excitedly and for a moment he was unable to move. At last he reached out his hand to touch the gold, but instead of hard metal coins his fingers felt soft, warm curls. They were the golden hair of a little girl, who, unbeknownst to Silas, came into the cottage and fell asleep in front the fireplace. Silas then discovered that the girl’s mother died in snow near his cottage. He decided to keep and raised the girl. The villagers were very surprised by Silas’ bold and kind decision, but they began to like him and some of them even came to help him. As Silas learned how to take care of the little girl, his hardened heart began to soften. His new-found delight in taking care of the little girl also help him rediscover trust in God and in people. He became an active and well-liked member of the village church and the village life. As he looked back, Silas believed that God sent the girl to him in the dark and lonely moment of his life.
It is true that Silas Marner saved the little girl’s life. It is equally true that the little girl was given to him to save him from a wounded heart and a broken life.
Mary and Joseph were poor people. The Christ child was given to them to love and to take care of. God trusted and depended on the kindness and gentle love of Mary and Joseph for the Christ child to survive and grow. He grew up and died and resurrected to be the Savior of Many and Joseph and all the world.
Let the Christ child be born in your heart this Christmas. Love Him, adorn Him, and serve Him, for He is the Savior that God has sent to you and me.
(This article was written for Mountain Mover [January, 2018], the monthly newsletter of Faith Lutheran Church https://faithbellaire.org/about-2/mountain-mover-newsletter/ )