Entertaining Angels: A Christmas Story

By Nancy Flory Published on December 24, 2020

The disheveled man was shaking and soaking wet from head to toe in the freezing Kentucky rain. It was a miserable night. He had nowhere to go and no money to get there.

It was Christmas Eve many years ago when he showed up on the Gibson family’s doorstep in the middle of nowhere. The family inside — aunts, uncles and cousins — was preparing for the evening’s celebration of opening gifts and peering in stockings. The ham was on the table, along with deviled eggs, Christmas cakes and candy. The festivities were in full swing when they heard a knock at the door.

The Hands and Feet of Jesus

Ten-year-old Brian Gibson wasn’t sure about his parents’ opening the door. “I remember thinking that this guy was suspicious looking, to be honest,” he told The Stream. He was leery of the man his parents invited in. “But then I watched the actions of my parents. And I think it began to seed into my heart way back then that, come on, we’re the hands and feet of Jesus. We take care of people and people that even the rest of society might be afraid of or turned off by. That is the mission of Jesus, right? To seek and to save that which was lost. And people are lost in all sorts of different ways.”

Brian’s parents let the man warm up and gave him dry clothes. They then put him up at the local Redwood Inn. They gave him what he needed to get to his next stop. Brian’s parents stopped the holiday celebration for a bit to care for the man. They “slowed down our Christmas to bless somebody else,” he remembers.

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“That’s the spirit of Jesus, the spirit of Christmas,” said Brian, now a pastor and the founder of PeaceablyGather.com, an organization that helps churches reopen during the pandemic and helps protect religious liberty. We can miss divine distractions when we’re busy. “But a lot of the ministry of Jesus happened on the way to somewhere,” he explained. “He’s on the way somewhere when the woman with the issue of blood comes up and grabs the hem of His garment. Peter and John are on their way to the temple,” when the man at the gate needed a miracle. “I think we’ve got to be careful at Christmas — and everyday — when we live in a distracted culture, a distracted world, that we have time to stop on the way and minister the love of Jesus.”

The Church is the Bedrock

Christmas is a time to reconnect with humanity, with family and friends. “And the church is the bedrock part of that in America.” Brian said the values he learned from his parents, particularly his mom, came from the time they spent in church. “You’re changing people’s Christmas, you’re changing people’s lives, through Jesus, and more specifically, not just through Jesus, but Jesus’ body, the church.”

Brian continued:

Americans need to remember what we have in the church and why it’s so important that we keep our First Amendment, keep our religious Liberty. And that’s why we’ve been so …  persistent and committed our life [to] telling pastors open up your churches, tell the story of Jesus.

I just think it’s so important for pastors, for Christians, for everybody to push, to hold on to this. And I’ll say it again. If anybody needs help doing that with their church or needs information, they could go to [peaceablygather.com] and we would help them any way we could.

Entertaining Angels

Brian remembers feeling a sense of satisfaction after his parents helped the man on Christmas Eve. “I knew when they did that, they were doing the right thing. So, those values were being instilled. And I think if everyone just every day tries to do the right thing, you know, we’ve got a better world, almost immediately.”

He remembers that his mother, generous to a fault, talked about entertaining angels unaware.

“And so, you never know who’s at the door.”

 

Nancy Flory is an associate editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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