By BRENDA HOPF
CONNECTING FAITH AND LIFE
Earlier this year, my husband and I heard that some dear friends of ours, Susie and Phil, were making plans to move into a smaller home. With a need to downsize, they decided to try to sell some of their possessions at a local consignment business. I learned they had their outdoor Nativity for sale; and since we had been contemplating purchasing one for several years, we decided to check it out. We ended up buying the Nativity scene and could not wait to tell Susie and Phil.
We already thought it was special that we now owned their Nativity, but what they told us next made this more than special. Susie told us that the set formerly belonged to her mom and dad, and that it was passed on to her after her mom passed away. She admitted that to put it up for sale had been a tough choice. We had no idea. We were deeply touched and honored that something so personal and special to them was now in our possession and under our care.
Fast forward to earlier this month, when we saw Susie and Phil at a fifth-grade girls’ basketball game, at which both of our granddaughters were playing. Susie asked if we had the outdoor Nativity on display yet because they would like to come see it. I told her we did not, but that I would let her know. I mentioned again how much it meant to us, especially knowing that the original owners were her parents. Susie then proceeded to tell me another part of the story, of which I was not aware. She said that her mom had seen and fallen in love with this particular outdoor Nativity at the local department store in town, owned by Susie’s aunt and uncle. Her mom and dad could not afford the set, so Susie’s aunt and uncle gave her mom and dad a couple of pieces each year until they had the full set. Originally, I said we were touched and honored; but now, I was speechless and humbled. We had not just purchased an outdoor Nativity, but along with that purchase came a beautiful story of love that connects each one of us to that first Christmas—the story of love born on Christmas Day.
The story I tell here is not one of items purchased—an outdoor Nativity—but rather a series of stories that connect an array of people in a beautiful web of love. It is a story that began long before we purchased our dear friends’ Nativity set; a story of love that did not just begin when Susie told us the set belonged to her parents - nor did it start with an act of kindness by Susie’s aunt and uncle. This story began in the center of the web of love in the manger in Bethlehem.
Many of you have stories of love like the one I just shared. Every one of those stories can be traced back to the center of the web of love that forever changed our world on that first Christmas. No greater love is there than for God the Father to send his only Son to die in our place so that we might enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven.
As we spend time with family and friends this Christmas season, there is no doubt that more stories of love will evolve. When we are participants in these stories of love or share stories of love from the past, we are reminded of the origin of love at the center of the web of love that is woven around the entire world.
May that eternal web of love that forever changed the world be yours this Christmas Season and always.
Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.