Christmas in a Half-Eaten Burger

“He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” Luke 21:2-4

I saw Jesus last night in a half-eaten hamburger and a cookie wrapped in a crumpled napkin. That was my Christmas blessing, and it was one of the best gifts I have ever received. Here’s how it went down…

A friend and four of her children met me at a local restaurant for an early Christmas celebration. They brought along another little girl, about eight years old, whose mother rents the small home where they are all currently staying. As we anxiously waited for our food, this precious child asked if we could say grace before our meal. Delighted, I agreed that we would, indeed, be saying grace.

With five kids in our party, our celebration was boisterous and enthusiastic, to say the least, especially since restaurant dining was not a common occurrence for them. In the chaos, my new little friend took a bite of her burger before remembering that grace had not yet been said. The look on her face told a familiar story of realization, quickly followed by uncertainty and guilty feelings for having dug in before the blessing, but I assured her that God counts the blessing, even if the food is already in your tummy. She seemed relieved and quickly ate her burger down to the shape of a crescent moon before suddenly placing the rest of it thoughtfully back on her plate. Observing her, my friend told me she was saving the rest for her little brother who had stayed home. Being autistic, he cannot handle much excitement, so he regularly misses out on fun outings.

Soon we hurried to the bakery counter so they could choose cookies that came with their kids’ meals. This little angel wavered among several choices, seemingly overwhelmed by the vast selection of sugary goodness laid out before her. Finally, she chose a cookie with brightly colored M&Ms in it. When the gentleman behind the counter handed it to her, you would have thought she had received the Holy Grail by the way she cradled it, smelled it and basked in the glory of its goodness. Finally, she ran back to the table, but instead of biting off half of it as expected, she carefully wrapped it up in her napkin and set it beside the remains of her burger. With my heart melting (and my eyes welling up), I gently told her I would be happy to buy another cookie for her brother, but she bashfully assured me, “If he doesn’t eat it, I will.” Once again, I urged her to allow me to get her a second cookie but she said no, it was okay. One of the older children at the table even warned, “He’s probably going to eat it, and then you won’t get one.” But this sweet little eight-year-old, wearing tattered hand-me-down clothes, turned to me with a radiant smile and insisted, “That’s OK, I want to give him mine.” And in that moment, I realized that prized cookie would be her Christmas gift to her brother. If I bought another one, it would be my gift to him. It would only be her gift if she gave sacrificially from what she had been given.

In this land of plenty, amidst this season of God’s love, how many of us truly have the privilege of giving from a position of want? Oh, to be taught the lessons of God through the heart of a child!

Prayer: Father God, thank you for the joy of witnessing Christmas through this child. As we think about Christmas and all that it implies: the baby in the manger, our Messiah, the Savior of the World, and his precious gift of salvation to us, Help us see with fresh eyes the awe and wonder of the Christ Child’s birth, and help us recognize the love of Jesus in our lives and the lives of those around us. Thank you for your love that fills our hearts each day. Let the light of your glory shine in us and through us this season so that others we meet will be drawn to you because they see you living in us, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Additional Scriptures:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

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