Tis' The Season of...

I love Christmas. That really is the case but it would be a very short and not very inspiring blog post if I left it at that. I love Christmas but sometimes it overwhelms me. It's not what you think though. I have been blessed with an incredible family - both by birth and marriage. There is never any pressure to get the 'perfect' present and I have committed to avoiding the mall from October through January. So, if it's not the stress of gift giving or finding a parking space at the mall then what could it be?

Christmas in all it's glory reminds me in a very real (the most real, realest) way that I am so not worthy. No matter what I try to do, no matter how good I try to be I am just not worthy of the love that was shown when God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, the trust that Joseph showed and the sacrifice that Jesus made to come into this world as a human.

This week I have been trying to do "Random Acts of Kindness" for people - strangers, friends, family. It's not that I don't 'do' them regularly, but this week I have tried to be conscious of doing them, and treating them as a gift. I expected to be able to do the 'regular' things like pay for someone's coffee, put some money in a parking meter, help someone carry their bags. Those were the easy ones. This week presented me with some opportunities that were unexpected. I overheard a conversation at work about how difficult it is for someone so I was able to leave an anonymous note in their mail slot with a little money in it. That was good - not planned but it seemed right; I felt good and I know the little bit of money made a difference. 

Yesterday I was asked to give a ride to someone who was 'changing hotels' - a phrase I hadn't ever heard before. How hard could that be? When I arrived I spent some time just talking to a man that could have been a schoolmate of mine in age, education and religion. He needed to move hotels because he was a bit down on his luck and the hospitality of the one hotel chain had run out. It was immediately clear that he needed more than I would be able to provide.

I wanted to help. But at the same time I couldn’t wait to get in my car and drive away.

I was able to get some information from him that I think will help him and I reached out to someone from his church. I hope that he accepts the help that will be offered to him. Today I prayed for him, his family, friends and for me. I was afraid, I felt so powerless but it was more than that. I felt so selfish. I wanted to be able to 'do good' and I wanted to listen and be attentive, I wanted to help. But at the same time I couldn't wait to get in my car and drive away. 

Did Jesus ever feel that way? Quite the opposite - he was at home with the homeless, the sick, the poor, the destitute, the outcasts. He didn't seek to run away - if anything he sought them out. 

We are not worthy but that's just it though, isn't it.  We are not worthy yet Mary accepted the most incredible invitation ever offered to a human. We are not worthy yet Joseph said yes and raised Jesus as his own so he could be safe. We are not worthy yet Jesus was born to us, died for our sins and stays with us as we continually fail to live up to our potential.

We are a week from Christmas - we celebrate the birth of Jesus by giving our family and friends 'gifts'. This year I challenge you (and myself) to go beyond the giving of 'things' and give the gift of ourselves. Lord I pray, help me to be more like you not just when times are good, but also when they are uncomfortable, unknown and scary. Help me to be like you, to confront my inadequacies and not hide from them.

I end this week's blog with a favorite quote from the Gospel of Luke. I'll try to take this to heart this year and live Christmas ever day. "The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name."

Merry Christmas and Peace my friends,

Bob

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; he has looked with favour on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed; the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm and has scattered the proud in their conceit, Casting down the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, to remember his promise of mercy, the promise made to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children for ever.

— Luke 1: 46-55