Much too substantial to be contained and far too priceless to be appraised, the gift of ourselves may be exactly what we are being asked to give this advent season. In little ways we can play an important part in shaping the lives of those we encounter in our families and within the world around us. Have you underestimated the gift of yourself this season? Don’t worry, God hasn’t..say yes today!
This morning I awoke to a beautiful gift- an extra hour of sleep, kids fed and showered, our pup taken care of as well, and my middle son making his lunch for school. As Peter stood there constructing his sandwich, in his dress shirt and tie laughing with his younger brother I felt so incredibly blessed. This was a moment that each of my family, without even fully recognizing had contributed to. Completing the gift, my hubby had ushered the boys into the car and dropped them each off at school with percussion set and books in tow. While these are all things that are a daily occurrence, today I was given the gift of appreciation both for what I do, as well as for the gift they each bring in themselves.
This advent as we light each candle in anticipation, open and unwrap each day, there is an inherent challenge. Are my steps and efforts directed towards society’s expectations, in an overly commercialized season of shopping, or they a gift to Christ? ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (MT 25:40) What is the real gift Christ is asking of us this season? It is, I believe, to give the gift of ourselves to others. Our time, our talents, our love…all gracious endowments from God to begin with, are to be freely given to others.
Yet, before we start thinking that these must be expressed as grand gestures, we look again at the infinite love witnessed in the tiny babe lying in the manger. In this way, God reached out to each one of us to give us the gift of Himself – to convert and enkindle our hearts to change the world. This love then is what we can bring each day to someone else in need. It might be a smile, a kind word, a warm meal, a handwritten note, a prayer or simply an unexpected act of love.
*While I have seen this idea before, I was reminded recently of a service advent calendar or advent jar. The idea is instead of receiving a candy or chocolate to honor the day, you choose a loving act of service to do individually or as a family. The ideas above are just a few, and will vary as do each of the gifts God has given you. More beautiful than gold, frankincense or myrrh will be your gift to Christ this season.
Years ago, I remember shopping with an infant in tow desperately trying to gather all that was needed so not to return. One day when walking past an aisle I saw an elderly man standing alone staring at a wall of supplies and looking completely lost. Knowing all that I had to do that day I could’ve kept going past, yet I felt that strong inner pull to walk back. As I approached, I leaned in and asked if I could be of any help. His whole body sighed as he turned and said, “Oh, thank you yes, I have been here looking for so long!” His eyes shone and his gratitude was unsurpassable. After asking him a few questions and locating the item, he then turned to me and said, “Do you know how many others have walked past me?” My heart ached at this, and still I realized that I too had been given a choice that day. That day, I saw Christ in my fellow brother, and responded to the call to love. It marks a very important faith moment in my life, one that I return to whenever I feel my own schedule has unique importance.
Jesus, this season I want to stop and celebrate your presence and love in others. Prayerfully, I desire that I can also be a reflection of you for those that are in need of love, mercy and forgiveness in their lives. Open my eyes and my heart to see where I need to be, what gift of myself that I can give, and what lessons are to be learned. Thank you for reminding me that though there is great need there is also great hope. For, in seeking to follow, you continually guide my feet and strengthen my purpose.