This Christmas marks the third year Idaho pastor Saeed Abedini has been separated from his family.
Abedini, an American citizen, is currently serving an eight-year sentence after an Iranian court found him guilty of trying to establish a network of churches in private homes.
Rajai Shahr Prison, 2014
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass, making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile…. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me….
These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh…. Why did God choose the hardest place to be born, in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.
Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today, we — like Him — should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ… and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas….
The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world…. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain… that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us, making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness…. Hallelujah!
This entire post is edited from an article at The Huffington Post.