Summary: Jesus created all of the stuff of this material universe, and in His Incarnation He became personally involved with the animal, mineral, and vegetable kingdom. His goal is to redeem all of His creation from the effects of the fall, so that even stuff is a part of the plan of salvation.
Back in October of 1948, a young pastor and his wife took on the challenge of repairing
and restoring an old church. Their goal was to have it done by Christmas Eve. But just two
days before Christmas a storm dumped over an inch of rain, and the roof leaked, and right
in front of the church the plaster got soaked and crumbled leaving a gaping hole in the wall.
The pastor and his wife were discouraged, and all their efforts seemed to be in vain. They
were really down as they went to a benefit auction for the youth that afternoon. One of the
items put up for bid was an old ivory and gold colored tablecloth. It was nearly 15 feet long.
The pastor got an idea and he bid until he got it. He took it to the church where he used it to
cover the wall where the hole was.
The day before Christmas he noticed a woman standing at the bus stop by the church. He
knew the bus would not be coming for at least a half an hour and it was cold. So he invited
her to come into the church to keep warm. He learned she was not from that neighborhood,
but was in the area to interview for a job as a governess, but she had not gotten it. When she
saw the cloth on the front of the church she rushed up to it and said, "this is my banquet
cloth." She told the shocked pastor its history and even showed him her initials she had
embroidered in one corner.
She and her husband had lived in Vienna, Austria. They had to flee from the Nazis before
World War II. They went separately so as not to be conspicuous, for they were opposed to
Hitler. They never found each other again, and she heard that he had died in a concentration
camp. The pastor was touched and he offered her the cloth. But she had no need for it now,
and liked the fact that it was doing some good right where it was. She left the church and her
cloth, and the pastor thought he would never see her again.
In the candle light of the Christmas Eve service, the tablecloth looked even more
magnificent. The lovely lace was so pretty in the flickering light of the candles as the golden
thread woven through it stood out. As the people left the church they commented on the
attractiveness of the church. One older gentleman lingered and admired the tablecloth. He
said to pastor as he was about to leave, " It's strange-many years ago my wife and I owned
such a tablecloth. She used it on special occasions when we lived in Vienna."
Goose bumps raised rapidly on the pastor's skin, as he told him about his experience with
a woman in the church that very afternoon. The old man began to cry. "Can it be that she is
alive? How can I find her?" The pastor remembered the name of the family she had visited
to get a job. He called there and got her address. Together they went to the home and he
witnessed a reunion like he had never seen in his life. They had been separated for over a
decade, each thinking the other was dead. Now because of a common possession, they were
reunited, and able to celebrate Christmas with great joy.
History is filled with stories like this where mere commonplace things play a major role.
The experience of one pastor is repeated, I am sure, by millions every year. Coming into
church one Christmas morning, he asked a little boy what he got for Christmas. His face lit
up as he replied, "I got a whole lot of stuff." Stuff is a rather vague term. The dictionary
says it means any kind of matter whether solid, liquid, or gas. It covers the entire universe of
material things, and believe it or not, it is a Biblical word. In the King James Version it is
used 13 times in the Old Testament, and once in the New Testament. It is used to refer to all
of one's household possessions. It is used to refer to all the equipment, weapons, and
baggage of an army. Stuff covers all kinds of stuff. Anything that is not in the animal
kingdom is included in the term stuff.
Shakespeare who wrote at the same time that the King James Version was translated used
the word stuff more than all other authors in history. One of his most famous lines is, "We
are such stuff as dreams are made of." Benjamin Franklin is famous for his line, "Do not
squander time for that is the stuff life is made of." When we come to the Biblical account of