The Gift of Christmas

Is to take delight in who you are.

The Scripture

Matthew 24:36-44
told by Deborah

Jesus said, “No one knows when that day will come — not the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

“The arrival of the Son of Man will be like it was in Noah’s time. Just as it was before the flood — when they were eating and drinking, giving parties and getting married, living their lives as usual — that’s how it will be when the Son of Man gets here.

“Just as it was then, when they were going to work and coming home again, getting up in the morning and going to bed every night as usual — right up until Noah went into the ark — blithely unknowing and uncaring until the flood came and swept them all away, that’s how it will be when the Son of Man comes.

“Then two will be in the office; one will be taken and one will be left. Two will be on the assembly line side by side; one will be taken and one will be left. So pay attention, because you don’t know when your Lord will get here.

“Think about it: if the homeowner had known when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and wouldn’t have let his house be broken into. That’s how it is with you; you’ve got to be alert and ready, because the Son of Man will come when you least expect it.”

Photo of a flower

Reflection by Deborah Beach Giordano
December 2, 2019

Brace Yourself

Shock, Home AloneOh my gosh, Advent is here! Arriving like the proverbial thief in the night, it catches most of us unprepared. It’s surprising to be surprised, since the build-up to Christmas has been going on in retail stores since July. Yet here we are, in our varying stages of astonishment, alarm, delight — or horror.

This is supposed to be a Season of joyful anticipation, but for many it is a time of anxiety and dread, a red and green garlanded nightmare that seems to stretch on forever. Danger lurks around every corner: snares woven of heartstrings, traps baited with gingerbread and sentiment; painful memories, estrangement, and alienation shrouded in colorful tissues — tied up with a silver bow.

For these weary and worn-out souls getting through the end of the year is an heroic accomplishment; holiday festivities are an ordeal to endure. They feel obliged to smile and pretend to be part of the show — yet the artifice drains their strength and erodes their spirits; a season meant for joy becomes a time of torment.

The situation is made worse by repeated airings of Home Alone and other of the sort of Hallmark Channel® feel-good films depicting marriages restored, romances rekindled, families and friends reconciled — all wounds healed and troubles resolved by tinsel, sugarplums, and the Christmas spirit. With a light dusting of snow for decoration.

It really does make a person want to gag; life is just not that simple. Often the damage is too severe, the patterns too entrenched, the abusers too secure, the pain too well-disguised — and often unacknowledged — for any kind of quick or easy fix. To pretend — even in the made-for-tv world — that the Christmas season casts a magical aura over the earth that makes everything happy and bright is to wickedly misrepresent the Glorious Event and to naively, foolishly, hurtfully ignore the terrible reality of human suffering.

Jesus’ birth was not the Quick Fix to all the world’s problems. He came to bring us a Way to follow, not a shortcut to perfect happiness. Life remains complicated; challenges persist, troubles arise, our strength, health, and even our hope may fail; relationships are strained and sometimes broken.

The Good News

It was into this messy, disordered, damaged and damaging world that our Lord Christ was born: a Glorious Affirmation of God’s love and abiding presence. “The Day of the Lord” was the birth of a gentle child — not the arrival of a just judge; it is the symbol of Divine mercy and compassion, and participation in what it is to be human. In Christ Jesus we have been given the confirmation that God is with us — really and truly with us, in all that we are and all that we know, even our joy and sorrow, our love and loss, our hopes and disappointments, even betrayal, despair, and death.

Wherever we are, God is with us.

Our Lord’s birth was an Extravagant Outbreak of Divine Love, filling the cosmos with radiance, as if a brilliant new star suddenly appeared in the night sky. That is cause for a Christmas celebration — we need no other reason.

big radiance

It is enough, surely, that we are loved. This wondrous gift is freely given; it carries no obligation, we are not required to be worshipful, or joyful, or courageous; we’re not even asked to believe that it is so — though mystics and God-intoxicated seers throughout the ages have known it to be true.

Enough, Already

This Christmas, be comforted, be at peace; make no demands on yourself, nor set requirements on others. You are enough.

Play with the notion of extravagant divine love — directed to you, personally and particularly, unconditionally. Imagine that glorious, gentle radiance warming your soul and energizing your spirit. Take delight in who you are. You are a holy treasure, a blessed sacrament, a gift of God.

It is never too late to have a happy childhood.
    ~ unknown

dancing

And Jesus said,“Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
    ~ Matthew 19:14

A blessed Advent,

Deborah 

Suggested Spiritual Exercise

Be gentle. Be kind. Be good to yourself. You are enough.