Written by Eric Sterling

A recurring annual Christmastime tradition in my family, growing up, was to spend Christmas Eve with several other family friends and their children, rotating host responsibilities each year. Each year, the anticipation of that night always evoked imagery of a glowing fireplace amid huge Michigan snowdrifts, seemingly endless pots of cinnamon spiced apple cider, and at least one overzealously sung Christmas carol (solo, and not by me).

However, my limited palate would never let me overcome my persistent fear of our party’s homemade cheesy bread appetizers. Ever since my parents had divulged how they contained miniscule morsels of crab meat, I was adamant about forever foregoing the bread whenever it was presented, even though I had never attempted to try it. This standoff continued for several years, until one year soon after Christmas when my parents mentioned they had saved some leftovers in the freezer from a recent batch, some of which seemed to lack the offending ingredient. I skeptically heated up and tried a few bites; then quickly agreed they were delicious. At that moment my parents revealed that those pieces did in fact contain the crab meat I thought I truly detested. After several seconds of shock passed, I finally reconciled my misconceptions, embracing the flavorful appetizer regardless of its composition.

This trivial anecdote reminds me of God’s willingness and relentlessness to reveal His love to us in unexpected and joyful ways. Just as I uncovered the delight associated with delicious food I thought I detested, Jesus offers joy to be found even among difficult and challenging times. I pray that we can all open our hearts to experience God’s love even in the most unexpected ways this Advent season. As we anticipate the birth of Jesus over the coming weeks, I hope we can spend a few extra moments to reflect on the unexpected beauty and love swirling around us like a snow globe, given to us by Christ; a smile on a face, a twinkle in an eye, an outstretched hand, an offer of comfort; even some crab in an appetizer.


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