On Christmas Eve as we were out driving around looking at lights and enjoying Christmas music, we stopped to visit for a bit with an older couple who are dear friends of ours. We had asked if they would be "in" that evening as we just wanted to drop off a box of cookies and wish them Merry Christmas. They assured us that we were more than welcome, even though some of their family would be there. They would be serving family communion and invited us to join them for that. That was a special time... but what struck me the most was the story told by another of our friends' guests, a Jewish man.
He said it was 25 years ago that night, Christmas Eve, that he came to know "Yeshua" the Messiah. He had been raised in the Jewish tradition and so was familiar with the "Scriptures", but knew nothing of the New Testament. That night he was visiting a Christian family and he asked, "Who is Jesus? And what does He mean to me?" His friend wisely counseled him to ask God that question. So after he went to bed that night he lay in the dark and out loud he said, "Who is Jesus? What does He mean to me?" He said he repeated that 3 or 4 times and as he lay there with his hands folded across his chest he was aware of a Presence in the room. He felt hands cover his, and lift his hands up and fold them into the position of prayer, and then gently lay them back down. And he knew. Jesus was there... and Jesus had come to be his Messiah. The Messiah that had been prophesied. He wasn't just some dead guy. He was the living Messiah.
He told how he began to read the Torah again and how it all began to make sense. He could clearly see the Gospel right there in the Old Testament scriptures. Adam sinned. That could have just as easily been him. God required a blood sacrifice. Jesus came to offer that.
And now, although this man still celebrates Hanukkah, he also has a reason to celebrate Christmas, because that's when Jesus came to him.
Isn't that a neat story?