Christmas Gifts

Christmas gifts

Christmas gifts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas Gifts


Christmas, the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday, falls on December 25th this year!  But I think I started seeing the first hints of Christmas advertising in August.  I knew a woman in Florida who kept her Christmas tree up all year.  Americans’ are expected to spend about $801 per person this Christmas.  This boils down to about $550 for gifts, $100 food and candy, $50 decorations, $30 greeting cards and $20 for flowers.
Why?  Some believe the tradition of gift giving at Christmas goes back to pre-Christian times in Rome and was simply adopted by the early Church.  Wherever it came from it is firmly rooted.  Most of us have memories of gift giving that includes looking at shelves piled high with everything from after-shave to wooden puzzles scratching our head wondering what uncle, aunt, cousin… might like.  Or then there is what has sometimes been called the ‘dirty Santa’ ritual of exchange at Christmas parties.
One of my early Christmas memories growing up in West Virginia was the time I saw an elderly woman carrying a heavy bag of groceries down a snowy sidewalk.  I stopped my car and asked if I could give her a ride.  Carrying her bag to the door of her ram shackle home I saw light coming through the boarded walls and broken glass in the windows.  As I helped her with her things I saw little in her cupboards.  I knew I had to do something.  I couldn’t rest until I found a way to go back and cover her windows and bring more food.  It is a vivid memory because of all the Christmas memories of my childhood it is the happiest.   I did grow up in a loving home with my parents and two brothers but this memory stands out.
Why?  “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:35-6). …”Master, what are you talking about?” they respond.  “I’m telling the solemn truth:  Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.”
Who do you see around you ignored?  Whose birthday is it anyway?

Life In a Fog

The fog is rolling

The fog is rolling (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

Life in a Fog

Sometimes life seems to be a series of crashes. Our lives crash and collide into those of others around us. We disagree about things large and small. We cling to our notions of how things must be. When someone offers a different viewpoint, we are convinced that they are somehow wrong. What I have observed over the years is that the problem has less to do with specifics and much more to do with a state of perpetual fog in which we often find ourselves existing.

Growing up in the mountains of West Virginia, fog was a frequent reality. Generally speaking, folks understood that when the “fog was as thick as pea soup”, a change in travel plans was indeed indicated. Especially if traveling at night was a consideration….double the peril- fog and darkness…..

So it is with things of the Spirit. When we discern with our human eyes rather than with our spiritual eyes, we typically have a very limited field of vision. It is much like trying to see through a thick fog. God, on the other hand, sees all. He is aware of ‘the big picture” that we fail to grasp. He is aware of how our lives intersect with all of those around us. He is aware of how each person’s holy calling is meant to affect the lives of others and what role each person plays in accomplishing His intended results. We make a mess of things when we fail to understand that it is God who must be The Light from the lighthouse which guides us through the fog. When we cling to our own ideas of rightness, our own priorities, our own definitions of success and what it must look like, our insistence on having it our own way, we are in essence refusing to let God guide us out of the fog that is much of human interaction. This refusal to be lead by His Light has a devastating effect on our hearts, minds, emotions, and interactions with one another.

When we find ourselves involved in situations of discord with others, a change of travel plans may be indicated. Perhaps we need to sit it out in the harbor a bit longer. Perhaps we need to consult with the Maker of the Stars to chart a safer course. Perhaps we need to study our Map of Life for wisdom and courage before be set sail. And always, always- we need to keep our eyes fixed on the Light that sees all, guides benevolently, and will never fail to lead us home safely. If we can but trust, He will cause the fog to dissipate, and we will once again be able to see clearly- with the eyes of the Spirit, rather than with our earthly eyes. The result of which is that we no longer crash about into one another, but rather, sail smoothly, according to His divine sexton, arriving at His intended destination. Amen.