What is your response when someone says to you, “It’s almost Christmas!” Most children and a certain brother-in-law I know can’t wait for Christmas to get here, so that they can open their presents under the tree. Most adults like a young father I know might respond, “Christmas! OH KNOW! Where did the time go?” One group is anxiously awaiting to open their gifts. The other group is anxiously buying gifts and worrying that they will not have enough time to finish buying the gifts the need to buy.
Christmas is not suppose to make us franticly running around like chickens without heads, in search of presents that will impress. Christmas is about “peace on earth, good will toward men” [and women and children and animals and the environment]. It’s about spending quality time with family and friends. Christmas is not all about opening the most stupendous gift ever. Christmas is about a tiny baby “born in the city of David” who will grow up to be the “Savior [of humankind from this terrifying world filled with unspeakable acts of cruelty and terror]. His Name is Christ the Lord.” Christmas is not all about the humongous gift wrapped in fancy paper and shiny ribbons and colorful bows, tucked under an evergreen tree decorated with over-the-top flashy ornaments and glittering lights [“not that there is anything wrong with that”]. Christmas is about “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (a dirty filthy animal trough).
[See Luke 2:8-14]
I am not saying that gift-giving is wrong or wrapping those gifts in a special way for those we love and for those who can‘t afford Christmas gifts. And I certainly enjoy Christmas trees that brighten up the dark wintry nights (I have four Christmas trees in my house). But, here comes the BIG BUT: But, if that is all that Christmas means to us, we somehow have missed the “GOOD NEWS of great JOY that [is meant] to be for all people.” ALL people means people with dark skin and light skin; the poor and the rich and the in-between; able-bodied people and people with disabilities; the learned and the not-so-much; people from every country and tribe and nation; refugees and citizens; people with differing political views and differing religious beliefs; and people of all ages, sexual orientations, single or married, widowed or divorced. [There are other people groups, but I think you get the idea.] Jesus wants to give all people His JOY and PEACE. [See Luke 2:10]
How do we get there from here? How do we celebrate and demonstrate the true meaning of Christmas? One of the ways is to read and meditate on the First Christmas and ask God to speak to you about the meaning behind the birth of “His only begotten Son.” Every year I find Advent Meditations to read every day during the Advent Season. Last year, I wrote my own Advent Meditations with Scriptures, Church History and my own thoughts. You may find them in my blog posts by searching for the word “Advent.” The posts were written on 12/04/2014: “The First Week in ‘Advent-ure’” and 12/31/2014: “It’s Not the Gift Wrap, But the Gift”
Needless to say, since last Sunday was the Third Sunday in Advent, I have not put together my own Advent Meditations. (Where did the time go?) Instead, I have been reading my dear friend Carol Purington’s Advent Meditations entitled, “Why Jesus Came?” which is ministering to me tremendously. Carol is an extremely gifted writer of Haiku and Tanka poetry and has written many books of poetry, local history and other topics. Her writing and use of vocabulary (finding just the right words to paint a picture from her thoughts) are simply exquisite.
If you picture Carol as an elegant-looking fashionista who hangs out with wealthy poets and writers, in their huge mansions, I’d say you’d be looking for the wrong kind of “wrapping paper and package.” Carol is a wonderful Christian woman, a beautiful writer, and a caring friend. She lives in Colrain, Massachusetts, in her family’s farm, “Woodslawn Farm,” where she writes from her bed. She is a great example to me of “God’s power made perfect in weakness” [See II Corinthians 12:9]. Carol has lived with polio from the age of five to her present age of sixty-five. She is confined to her bed and must use a respirator to be able to breath sufficiently. She writes mostly by “talking” to her computer. To really get to know Carol and the lovely person she is, it is important not get fixated by her “small packaging” or her physical appearance, but to listen to the words that come from her heart and to read her words of wisdom coming from her writings, and to look into her beautiful eyes and to see her accepting and friendly smile.
Carol has been a tremendous help to me. She is someone who understands completely what it means to be totally dependent on others for her physical care. At the same time, she has been given the grace needed to be totally dependent on God and her faith in God enables her to trust Him to meet her every need. But, that does not mean she doesn’t feel the anxieties and fears disabled people face. Carol Purington is an extraordinarily gifted woman of God and I am blessed to call her “friend.” If you would like to read her Advent Meditations, “Why Jesus Came”, just go to her webpage and look on the right-hand column.
Carol’s webpage address: http://www.woodslawnfarm.com/p/poetry.html
Because CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE(!), Carol gives the following suggestion: “Another way to use this collection is to save it for the new year and read one meditation a day in January. Or you might choose to read one meditation a week. That might take you through Easter, which could be a illuminating experience.”
“Why Jesus Came” is my Christmas Gift to all of you. May God bless you and me this Christmas with His peace and joy.