John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup ofwater to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose his reward.’” (Mk 9: 38-41) Today Christ puts my mind to rest with regard to those outside His Church, who do good work in His name. I need not deny, nor be concerned about, “deeds of power” done in His name, happening through and among those who “are not following us.” It is up to God to judge and to reward the good done in this world, not me. And He, apparently, is willing to reward every little “cup of water” given in His name. Right now there are all sorts of events, celebrations, charities, exhibits, concerts, decorations, etc. going on around me in the name of “Christmas”; that is, in His name. Let me not be quick to disparage or judge how, or by whom, these things are done. It is up to Him to judge and to reward, as He sees fit. As I continue my journey toward Bethlehem, let me accept that others also make this journey in different ways, in ways perhaps foreign to me. He led the Magi, “those who worshipped the stars” (οἱ τοῖς ἄστροις λατρεύοντες, звездам служащии), as we sing in the Nativity Troparion-hymn, to come to Him in their own, unorthodox way, through a star. So today I leave it to Him to lead me, and others, to Bethlehem, as He sees fit. O Lord, glory to You.

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