Yesterday a post from one of my friends popped up on my Facebook feed, every day she posts something she is thankful for in a #gratitudechallenge. It read something like "Today I'm thankful for my life," you see yesterday she survived a 7.8 earthquake. We forget so often that our lives are a gift- a gift we aren't entitled to. As Christmas rolls, closer this world seems especially dark. So many need a good dose of Christmas spirit. I was talking to a friend last week about how nasty everyone was being and mentioned that to her. Her response was interesting- "What does that even mean anymore? Because the norm isn't what happens at my house." As I sat there thinking about her words, I was a bit stunned that even I couldn't explain what the "Christmas spirit" was.
What is it? A warm feeling when the family is gathered near? A big feast? Cookies? Presents beneath the tree? A nativity scene? Another day off? What is it?
Christmas is a day of giving, of remembrance that Good Friday is only four short months away, that a baby would grow up to save the world. Everything about this holiday should point to Jesus- but we've gotten caught up in the fast pace, the commercialism of the holiday. We've forgotten that that tree not only points to heaven but Christ would die on one. The childlike hope that shines from the faces as we gather round that tree to unwrap presents because the greatest gift has been given to us all- forgiveness.
Our Christmas songs have become just songs, but they hold the answer, they cry of peace and love and hope and goodwill,
Of peace on earth, to men of good will.
Longfellow wrote these words, what does that mean to be men and woman of good will? How do we live like this? I have a challenge for you, let's find the real spirit of Christmas- I don't mean the "classic" Christmas, the one in the movies, or one with homemade presents or even caroling. But the Christmas spirit of changed hearts. Like Scrooge in the Christmas Carol. Let this be a Christmas of finding lost hearts, of opening our hearts up to His love, of reaching out and loving our neighbor, of being the change we want to see in the world. Of holding our hand out to the person we deemed an enemy and making peace.
Maybe that means making Christmas cookies with the kid's and taking them to an elderly neighbor. Maybe that means caroling at a nursing home or visiting someone who is hurting, Maybe that means turning off your phone and computer and being there in the moment. Maybe it's volunteering, getting outside our little worlds and doing something for others. Maybe that means making amends- I don't know. But let's find it, you and me. Let's give this world some good to talk about, because what we've all forgotten is that light shines the brightest when it's the darkest. Tonight, when it's dark take a candle outside and light it. Watch how even though the darkness surrounds it, the light stands out- refusing to be swallowed. Be that light. Be a reflection of Him. And remember that Good Friday is only a few months away.