On May 30, 2008, Justin Bedsole, 21, was killed in an automobile accident. He left behind his mother Kim, father Chris, sister Jenna and his new wife, Leslie.
As a boy, Justin's favorite Christmas decoration was a nativity scene, which he often embellished with his toy soldiers. As the holiday approached the Christmas before Justin's death, his mother planned to replace the worn nativity with a new one. But Justin confiscated his favorite scene and hid it to protect it from disposal. It has never been found.
However, as Christmas 2008 neared, the Bedsoles began receiving pieces of a beautiful new nativity, delivered to them at various locations by people they did not know. The last piece, the Baby Jesus in a manger, arrived at their home on Christmas morning. Each piece was received with the spoken or written promise of "more to come."
At the time of that first gift, when their grief was so raw and their longing for their son so intense, the Bedsoles took it as a sign that there was not only "more to come" at the end of their life's journey, but more love and hope and peace for them to claim and share on this earth.
Each year since 2008, even as Chris and Kim Bedsole left their Semmes home and moved to Texas, then Singapore, they continued to receive gifts from their Christmas Angels: an antique lamp with a nativity scene on the base, a Thomas Kincade Christmas tree, a framed poem titled "Merry Christmas from Heaven," written as if it were from Justin.
Jenna Bedsole is married now and settled in another town. Chris and Kim are back in the U.S., living in Baton Rouge. They have never learned who their Angels are or how they determined that the Bedsoles needed the promise of "More to come."
But the Christmas story is not quite complete.
Kim Bedsole explains in her own words:
"In Scripture, the number 7 symbolizes completeness, fullness and perfection. This is our 7th Christmas without our son, Justin, and also the 7th Christmas that our Nativity Angels have blessed our family. Per the letter from our Angels, they now have another family to help lift from their grief. As part of their final offering, we were presented with a gift that ensures the story will continue. Our Angels gave Chris and me, as parents, the perfect Christmas gift. Our children and future children will have the opportunity to share this amazing story forever. Again, thank you to everyone who has shared this journey with us. Please join us in praying blessings over our Nativity Angels and the grieving family God has placed in their path. We will be forever grateful to our anonymous Angels, who pulled us out of the darkness and gave us hope."
And finally, in their last package from the Angels, this Christmas 2014, was the letter below:
"Jenna and Marco (Jenna's husband), this Nativity is yours. We hope you will use it for ministry. You may choose to keep the set and display it in your home, and when friends or family visit during the holidays, you can share the story of the first Nativity delivery and how Justin loved Christmas and all the characters that make up the Nativity. You may choose to give it away to someone that is hurting. The choice is yours. The Christmas Committee pray blessings on you and know that God will use you these last days. Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy 2015."
(Photo of Jenna and Marco, courtesy of Kim Bedsole)