Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How are you preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ?

The Facebook Post Grabbed My Attention

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”—Matthew 6:33-34(NIV).

“Widow with five children seeks Christmas tree and ornaments.”
 The Facebook post grabbed my attention among all the others constantly appearing on my feed. She wasn’t a friend but some of my friends had responded to her plea to provide some joy for her children. She didn’t ask for anything else—not presents or money, clothing or food—but the simple request drew out the best in those who saw her post. 

I lost track of the responses from those who offered more to the young widow. In addition to a tree and decorations, there were offers of clothing, food and gifts for the woman as well as her children. I also noticed this mother of five is a praying woman, but it must have taken courage to ask for help so publicly.

November 30 heralded the beginning of Advent. During this time leading up to the celebration of our Savior’s birth, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. While we recall the Jews’ longing for a Messiah, we remember our own yearning for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning.

For some, the need to be first in line for holiday sales is more important than preparing the heart for this sacred celebration. This desire to grab a bargain while fighting the crowds reminds me of the birds in my backyard squabbling over the seed in several feeders as well as the two suet baskets I’ve put out for them. Even the birds seem to be worried there won’t be enough.

"Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not the expensive gifts that call for time and money."

In Matthew 6:26-27, Jesus tells us, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Many seem to be more worried about finding the perfect Christmas gift at a bargain than following Christ’s example to see to the needs of the less fortunate. For those who are blessed, much is expected. Jesus says in Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not the expensive gifts that call for time and money. We can communicate this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, a little help, forgiveness. And the joy we give will certainly come back to us. Let us pray that this presence of the liberating joy of God shines forth in our lives.”

True joy comes in giving, not getting. Let’s remember this as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth and seek ways to help the less fortunate this season.

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