I write this on the eve of Christmas. Some of you may not celebrate Christmas. I value and affirm the different spiritual paths we choose to take. My faith tradition is Christian and at our Christmas Eve service tonight, I was stunned by how this old message I’ve heard hundreds of times could touch me so once again.
The same old story speaks to me in different ways each year and this year, it spoke to me by illuminating the nature of God’s gift to us.
We celebrate Christmas because God gave us the gift of life and we as God’s children are now called to share this gift with one another. Tomorrow morning, many of us will give our loved ones gifts of material items but we know that the real gift is the gift of ourselves. The most precious gift we can give to one another is our presence, love, forgiveness, playfulness and life together. And the same is true for them in our lives.
This notion of gift has been a strong message in my life this year. Whenever my husband and I had conflicts, I went to God in prayer and kept hearing the word “gift” over and over again. Meaning, although I was so angry with my husband and convinced I was sold a bill of goods, he was God’s gift in my life.
Ministry is not easy and there are many days I want to quit. I won’t go into the details now because that’s an entire post in and of itself but during challenging days, I went to God in prayer and kept hearing the word, “gift” over and over again. I saw my work as a burden but God was trying to tell me that God gave me this vocation to receive joy.
I sat in our Christmas Eve service tonight and felt the wonder of it all with the choir, brass, candles, hymns, ancient scriptures and poinsettias flooding the sanctuary. A memory of my husband dancing with our son in our kitchen came to mind. They were holding hands and moving their bodies in silly ways.
And I heard it again. Gift. This life…it’s all a gift. A gift from God to us to enjoy. Our friends, neighbors, partners, parents, jobs, music, homes, clothes, art, Christmas cookies.
This is the essence of Christmas.
Yet many of us do not see our lives as a gift. Many of us see it as a burden or a slog or a disappointment or a means to prove our worth.
On this Christmas morning, open your hands and receive it all as gift—your entire life and everything in it. It will change how you see
Warmest wishes to you and your loved ones.