I Saw the Face of Jesus on Christmas Eve
Devin Householder

It was Christmas Eve, December 2021. I cherish this moment because I truly saw the face of Jesus in Marietta, Georgia, that quiet and pleasantly fresh evening. Mt. Bethel Church was aglow with festive lighting and beautiful people all around. My family and I had attended the 5:00 service that afternoon.

My dad had passed away in the spring, so it was an achingly emotional service attending with my mom, wife, and son. My sister-in-law was also with us; she had lost her 30-year partner, Susan, to suicide shortly after my dad’s passing this year, but I felt the presence of Papa House and Susan’s spirit with us as I reflected on others who also might be seeing an empty chair at Christmas dinner the next day. Our Senior Pastor, Jody, delivered a devotion on the hope and light that has been brought into this world with the birth of our Savior Jesus, born over 2000 years ago. His coming was predicted long before his birth by the prophet Isaiah. Our church has felt the spiritual warfare of the now divided Methodist Church, so Jody’s message was particularly in-tune to how Light can stomp out the darkness in such a troublesome world.

I returned home to spend time with my wife and sister-in-law until I headed back to the church for my second round and the 11pm candlelight service. I was not in the mindset of my normal “greeter” mode, but I did strike up a God-moment conversation with a couple who were visiting. Within five minutes, James shared that he was a mechanic. I mentioned I had a special Corvette that I had purchased this spring. It was the last thing that Dad and I had done together so that earthly possession has some deep meaning to me. James said he works on C5’s like mine and, little did he know, that I am in need of some repairs. His girlfriend, Cynthia, said they were visiting again after being gone for decades; I hope to continue with my new friends soon.

It was the communion Christmas Eve service, and I received my Sacrament from Barbara and Skyler, grandmother and granddaughter. I headed to my seat by myself in the middle of the church, left of the podium where I normally sit. I noticed a lady with a houndstooth jacket, front row center, as close as she could get to the stage. The houndstooth print was conspicuously large and fashionable. (With my background in apparel, I tend to notice things like that!) The service started and I was pleasantly surprised to have Barbara, Skyler, and Officer Phil come join me. (Side note: I like to sit by myself sometimes and see who the Lord puts in my arena.)

There were two young ladies in the row in front of me giddy with excitement. I surmised that they were high school seniors, possibly sisters. The service was wonderful as I reflected on every word of scripture and meaning from Jonathan Lawson and John Freeland. One of my favorite families, Tony and Susie, did the advent reading like the wonderful Christians that they are. We were blessed with solos by the beautiful tenor voice of Cody who sounded just like Josh Groban. We sang and praised together and ended with candles raised high to “Silent Night.”

As I exited, I noticed that I was now following the two young ladies that sat in front of me. I asked them if they were sisters. They replied, “No, just friends who wanted to attend a nighttime service on Christmas Eve.” They said neither of their families wanted to go so they met up and came by themselves. What an inspiration to the gospel, I thought to myself! How beautiful! There’s still hope in our younger generation; we just simply need to keep planting and watering. God and His spirit will help!

But then–I saw HIM! Slowly the crowd was dissipating in the hallway as I locked in on the houndstooth jacket right past the corridor doors. She was older, small, and moving slowly taking in each decoration and stopping at the book stand. I stopped and we chatted for a moment. She said several times how much she appreciated my kindness by stopping to speak. She apologized for her slow speech and said how much she enjoyed this visit to such a wonderful church. She admitted that she was actually headed to the other big church around the corner, but Mt. Bethel was closer for her so she stopped here instead. Then she said she had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. My heart sank as we kept talking. She said she had driven herself and didn’t need to take me up on my offer to drive her home. I looked deep into her eyes and there He was. It was just after midnight on Christmas Eve and I witnessed my Lord in her eyes, her beautiful brown eyes with her softly wrinkled smile. Her name is Mina, and I am blessed because of her. I never imagined how special this night would be. I was unaware in my tiredness to be prepared for such a Holy Spirit moment. I truly saw the face of Jesus at that very moment. Through such a hectic and crazy day, He appeared to me in this sweet lady’s face.

God is incredibly awesome and I yearn to be a reflection of His love. He just keeps reminding me that even in the midst of spiritual warfare, He is present and with us always. As Mother Teresa said, “Be faithful in the small things for it is in them where our strength lies.” In a matter of an hour, unexpectantly I had met five new Christian friends whose words and presence warmed my heart immensely.

Holy Spirit moments and Jesus’ appearance can happen so quickly sometimes. I hope we can always stay close to Him and recognize when His presence is here. He’s here all the time; we just have to be on guard and stand firm, keeping watch for His return. It’s His kingdom anyway, isn’t it? We are only here for a short while, so I want to make the rest of my days, the best of my days. All for His Glory. Always for His Glory. Happy New Year, y’all!