Be the Gift that Keeps on Giving!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
“So this is Christmas and what have you done / Another year over, a new one just begun….” So are the words of the late John Lennon.

I easily get caught up in the busy holiday season: shopping, writing cards, holiday get-togethers and more. I find myself going through motions, sticking to the calendar, missing the spirit of Christmas.

But I want more; I want to celebrate Christmas. But what exactly am I celebrating, and how do I celebrate?

These days, I am celebrating the birth of Christ. These days, I want to see more greeting cards saying “Merry Christmas” than “Happy Holidays.” But things have changed for me over time.

What does Christmas mean to me today? Because I wasn’t raised in a church, Christmas wasn’t a religious practice or ritual for me; it’s not something I celebrated at a church as a child. As an adult, Christmas changed for me because of my personal faith grounded in a developed relationship with Jesus Christ--Jesus, the Son of God, and also Jesus as a man.

Now, Christmas is a time when I acknowledge having truth in my life. I can remember when I had no truth in my life; I desperately searched for something I could trust, and in my search, I became frustrated and self-destructive.

Christmas allows me to reflect on the Jesus I see in nature. The beautiful, powerful, balanced, logical and mysterious nature I see around me each day (So where does gravity come from anyway?), and I see Jesus in nature, in the order of things.

I learn from Jesus in history—from reading different account and opinions, listening to preaching and, at times, by watching movies. Jesus interrupted history, literally. Every day, I am reminded of Jesus in history as I write down the year. The year is 2018; 2018 years from what? I celebrate my Jesus found in history.

I feel Jesus’ Spirit inside of me. For me, my conscious is less of a voice and more of a feeling, letting me know right from wrong. I know I don’t always listen to that feeling, but for as long as I can remember, that awareness of good and bad in my gut has been there. I celebrate Jesus influencing me from the edge of my conscious, helping to guide my soul.

So that’s what I celebrate at Christmas now. I celebrate all the ways I see and feel Jesus in my life and the birth of my Lord and King. My reason for celebrating has certainly changed over time, but how I respond and react to Christmas has also changed. These days, celebrating Christmas is a lifestyle for me as I respond to the gift of purpose, beauty and meaning in my life. I have begun acknowledging others around me throughout the year as I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy.

As I start each day, I am compelled to speak to others and encourage them in their day, as well. The more I acknowledge the grace found in my life, the more I am compelled to share grace with others.

I relate to the drummer boy. When the drummer boy saw the gift of baby Jesus, he simply had to respond to the feelings of joy and gratitude he had never felt before. He did what he could do; he played his drum to encourage and uplift. The drummer boy is a good example for us all.

As you inventory your life’s daily joy and grace, I challenge you to consider the source of that joy and grace. In your response to those gifts (did you earn all you have received?), I want you to remember the drummer boy and react to God’s provision in your life. I recommend helping somebody else as your gift back to God, in response to His first loving you. No grandiose gestures are required; just practice being kind and generous as you meet people throughout your day. Hold a door, say thank you, let someone in the traffic line, listen to your neighbor or give a dog a biscuit. Practice natural grace and kindness to others as expressions of appreciation for God’s grace in your life. When we intentionally change how we interact with our neighbors, we change, too. As we grow together in unity and Spirit, we find a peace in the midst of life’s busyness and struggle. What a wonderful gift is that peace, here and now on earth.

So, this Christmas, my challenge to you is to be the gift that keeps on giving!

Merry Christmas. Peace be with you.

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