Friday, December 23, 2011
The Christmas season opens our heart to giving to others. We focus on finding that perfect gift, the gift that creates a excited response and a memorable impression. We are encouraged to make it a "Christmas to remember" by car companies that depict THE present parked in the driveway adorned with a red bow. Our senses are assaulted as we enter stores as the merchandising screams at us to "buy".
Right now, there are scores of shoppers fighting their way through last minute crowds to find that perfect gift, attempting to complete the task of finding the obligatory and necessary gifts for every family member and maybe even a few close friends thrown in for good measure. Often, the process of giving is about the process of getting. Our gift has to be commensurate with the gift we expect to receive. Christmas cheer and all that, you know?
In the midst of the frantic searching for gifts, our consciousness is occasionally pierced by the heartwarming story of an anonymous gift to a worthy cause, or of those that spend some time serving at a local mission to benefit those that are needy or on the street. These stories catch our attention because they are good stories.
Perhaps more importantly, in a season of giving and getting, they catch our attention because we see generosity given to those that can give nothing in return. The street person, the homeless, the displaced, are recipients of the gifts given by those that are capable, and in return, they can offer nothing but their gratitude.
And that is the real message of the Christmas season for all of us. When the light of the Christmas star pierced the darkness of the plains of Bethlehem, there was an announcement of a gift that was given to all mankind, a gift of hope and redemption, of which we were not worthy. WE are the street person, the homeless, the displaced. We had and have nothing to give to respond to that gift.
Nothing except our gratitude. And in our thankful response, our recognition of the gift that was given to us, we in turn respond to each other with gratitude and the joy of the hope we now possess. That is the gift of the Christmas season, a gift that transcends stores, packages, and bows on cars.
In the material joy of this Christmas season, we pause and remember the real gift of this season. May our hearts always be moved to respond in gratitude.