Let me tell you how Taylor Caldwell, one of the great novelists of our day, learned this great truth. She said that it was her most meaningful Christmas ever. It all began on a rainy spring day of the bleakest year of her life. Her marriage had ended in a divorce and she was looking for work when she found on the city bus a beautiful umbrella with a silver handle. There was a name and address on it and she decided to return it rather than turn it in.
The owner was quite surprised. Yes, it was hers; her parents had given it to her for the birthday. She invited her in and over a cup of tea she inquired as to where Miss Caldwell lived, what she did and expressed sympathy for her plight.
The next six months were wretched with only temporary employment here and there. Her last job ended on Christmas Eve. There was $30 rent due and she had only $15 which she and her little girl, Peggy, would need for food.
Christmas cheer was in the air as she walked to their apartment, but there would be no Christmas for them. No gifts, none whatsoever. Come January they would be homeless, jobless and without food. She had prayed and prayed but there had been no answer, only the cold and dark.
There were two envelopes in the mailbox—bills probably. She opened the door and her daughter greeted her joyously. Peggy was only six but she had set the table and put out the last three cans of food. As she struggled to keep back the tears, Taylor Caldwell, for the first time in her life doubted the love and goodness of God.
The doorbell rang and Peggy went to the door. It was a deliveryman with arms full of parcels. Incredible! They were filled with all kinds of gifts for the two of them. The sender was the lady whose umbrella She had returned almost a year before.
Suddenly Taylor Caldwell had hope again. She could face the bills and all her other problems. Then she remembered to open the two envelopes. In one was a Christmas bonus for $30 from a company she worked for in the summer. Her rent! In the other was the offer of a permanent job with the government to begin two days after Christmas.
In the distance church bells were ringing. People were on their way to the Christmas Eve service to celebrate the birth of the Savior. She heard the voices singing “O come all ye faithful.” She whispered her thoughts aloud: “I am not alone. I was never alone.”
That is the message for the second Sunday in Advent. We are never alone—no matter what. Listen again to words from Matthew’s gospel: “His name shall be called Emmanuel (which means God with us).” Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.