It was cold…really cold.
It was the kind of cold they warned me about, but I didn’t care. Almost forty-eight hours and at least half a dozen espressos later, I had finally made it. A lot of people had questioned my decision to move to Russia in the heart of winter, but as I stepped out of the airport into the fresh, frosty air of Saint Petersburg, nothing in the world could convince me otherwise. After all, that’s what adventures are, right? The unexpected.
I hopped into a taxi and made my way to my new home for the next six months, nodding and smiling as the Russian driver made small talk to a slightly delirious, young American. As we pulled up to the apartment, we were greeted by my new roommate Rachel, who insisted that we take a trip to the store. It was 11 o’clock at night. I was not amused.
Nevertheless, we ventured out into the dimly lit streets, crunching fresh snow under our furry boots. Everything seemed so still and quiet, almost as if we had walked right into a post card or a storybook that’s in between chapters. We rounded a corner and standing before me was an enormous Christmas tree. It was lit from top to bottom, creating an almost warm feeling as I inched closer to it. All of a sudden, it hit me. It was January 7!
Throughout the chaos of checked baggage, airplane food, and questionable looks at customs, I had completely forgotten that I was arriving on the Russian Christmas Day. It didn’t feel like Christmas. There were no presents, mistletoe, or family around. I was completely alone in a country that didn’t even know I existed or speak a language I understood. However, the quiet stillness around me made me think of the very first Christmas and what it must have been like.
God sent His Son into a world that didn’t know Him and, for the most part, wanted nothing to do with Him. He came to seek and to save what was lost, to heal broken hearts, and to set the captives free (Luke 19:10 and 4:18). When I realized that, this beautiful tree became less captivating and more tacky. The true heart of Christmas became something too beautiful to be compared to a tree.
Suddenly, my trip returned to being this daring assignment entrusted to me. God had sent me, His daughter, to a land that didn’t know me, on a quiet, snowy Christmas evening. I had arrived with a purpose—to tell the Russian people the true meaning of Christmas and what all Jesus accomplished on their behalf.
As Christians, the very heart of Christmas lives inside of us, bleeding out into our everyday lives. It’s not a 24-hour holiday but, rather, a mindset, leading us to carry on the task that began over 2,000 years ago. What I learned underneath the Christmas tree that night was that I felt honored to take Christ to hurting people. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget.
Take time to remember what the Christmas season is all about this year at Charis Bible College. Come out for The Heart of Christmas production! You can also help provide a way for others to attend by sponsoring a family here. This Christmas, remember what was given to us. For tickets and pricing information, go to www.heartofchristmas.org or call 719-635-6029.