Wooden toy soldiers have become a colorful part of Christmas decoration and celebration. They were made famous in the Nutcracker Ballet. In the end, the Nutcracker turns into a Prince. We begin caring about others, we are becoming real human beings, and less like wooden soldiers. This is part of the essence of the Good Samaritan, who cared more about a robbed, beaten, foreign stranger than he did about himself. It is the life of Jesus: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” Luke’s Christmas story tells of a wooden-hearted Bethlehem that only had room for Jesus in a stable’s manger. But those with compassion have real hearts that make room for everyone who has been shut out. When our hearts become tender and have compassion, we are becoming less like wooden soldiers. It is why Jesus took children up in his arms; why he visited the home of Zacchaeus; why he restored an ostracized demoniac to society; why he healed the crippled, blind, and diseased. Jesus taught us that when we choose to define ourselves by our generosity rather than by our possessions, we are becoming less like wooden soldiers. In Dicken’s masterpiece, two gentlemen come to Scrooge, soliciting money-gifts for “meat and drink” for the “poor and destitute.” Scrooge replies, “It’s not my business.” That evening, Scrooge is visited by the cursed ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley. “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.” “Business!” cried the ghost, “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business!” But because the wooden Ebenezer Scrooge is changed by the revelation of “things that might be,” he is blessed by the true spirit of Christmas, and becomes a generous, real human being. Life, as God intends it, is the possibility of Christmas. John also wrote a Christmas story: “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,” a vast and living army, rank on rank.
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