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Christmas Carol Points to the Gift Christ Wants—Our Hearts

In 1872 the poet Christina Rossetti wrote a poem that only appeared after her death. About thirty years later the poem was set to music and titled "A Christmas Carol." Today, we know it as "In the Bleak Midwinter."

But there's a fascinating back-story to this beloved Christmas carol. Rossetti was a devoted follower of Christ who for many years volunteered at the St. Mary Magdalene "house of charity," a refuge for women coming out of a life of prostitution. In the Victorian Era of her day, economic forces often caused women to eke out a living by selling their bodies. Some of the "women" were only twelve years old. Rossetti's efforts in offering Christ and helping find better jobs for these marginalized women came through in some of her poems.

For instance, this Christmas carol pictures a Savior who entered our world of suffering and brokenness—a world much like "the bleak mid-winter" of Rossetti's native England. "Heaven cannot hold … nor earth sustain" Jesus, and yet "a stable-place" and "a manger full of hay" sufficed for him.

In light of Christ's great power and love, Rossetti's poem asks:

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?

This question would have weighed heavily on women struggling to come out of a life of prostitution. With their broken lives, what could they possibly give to Jesus, especially since "Heaven cannot hold him"?

According to Rossetti's poem, there is one thing that all of us can give Christ—no matter who we are. She wrote:

If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Regardless of our tainted past or our present struggles, there is one gift that Christ wants more than anything—our hearts. No matter who you are or where you've been you can give him your heart.

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