Sunday, January 29, 2023

Christmas: God with us

“If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: ‘God with us.’” -John F. MacArthur
Of all the verses of scripture that tell the story of Christmas, of all the books written and sermons preached about the coming of the Christ Child into our world, nothing has ever surpassed the words in the Gospel of Matthew: “and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:23) This is the promise of Christmas and the very heart of the holiday. The lights, the food, the gifts, the carols, the traditions, the bustle and busyness-truthfully, we quite at ease with all of it. It is such a special time each year. We look forward to being with family, with sharing time and gifts with one another. We look forward to the special treats and sweets that will be on our table. We love catching up with family and friends through cards and holiday notes.
The holiday events that dot our personal and professional calendars are all terrific ways to be reminded of our blessings, of how fortunate we are to share our lives (and often, our faith) with one another.Often we are reminded that the holidays can also be a burden, or a time of anxiety, for many people. But this too is part of how we “keep” the holiday-through being aware of the needs of others. The Christmas story invites us to open our hearts and to let the miracle of Emmanuel-God with Us-be expressed with grace and generosity.It’s commonly said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. Practicing generosity isn’t only good for others, but can help you feel happier, more connected and fulfilled. Research has shown that giving to others can reduce stress and was found to even lower blood pressure. Instead of making Christmas just about what gifts we want to receive, it is more meaningful to be with acts of kindness and generosity.Christmastime is here, and with it, the world shifts toward thoughts of gift, the joy of the season, and happiness. The sharing and caring, the demonstrations of love-these are what characterize Christmas and the jolly old man in red himself. For most people, the joy of the season is giving gifts that light up the faces of their loved ones and friends. Maybe it’s time to think outside your circle and consider what a very small gift could do for others?
“Christmas is all about giving.” I totally endorse the truth about this statement. Giving is an act of love. The joy of being able to bless and give someone you care, and to make them smile, is priceless. Although Christmas is a festivity for the entire family, children play an important role in it. Children do need love and caring during Christmas, but there are few kids who are less fortunate to enjoy the spirit of Christmas. And that’s when your participation will be strongly appreciated. There also many less fortunate families who need your help.
If you are thinking about doing something to help those less fortunate, Christmas season is the perfect time to open your heart and wallet to give back. The satisfaction that comes from making a difference in the lives of others cannot be overstated. Knowing that you have helped make someone else’s Christmas a little bit brighter is a special feeling, and one that will last with you even after the holidays are over. So if you are looking for a way to enhance your holiday experience, try giving back this year. You’ll be glad you did.
“He that is kindly in eye will be blessed, for he has given of his food to the lowly one.” – Proverbs 22:9. Jesus helped people who were poor, sick, and afflicted, some want to follow his example. They feel that the best time to do that may be Christmas, when charities often put forth extra effort to collect donations. During Christmas time, many people are preoccupied with shopping, entertaining, and visiting friends and family. All of this leaves them with little time, energy, or money to attend to the poor and needy, other than perhaps making a donation.
What Bible principles can help? “Do not hold back good from those to whom it owes, when it happens to be in the power of your hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27) The poor, the hungry, and the afflicted do not suffer only at Christmastime. If you perceive that someone needs help and it is within “the power of your hand” to assist, why wait for a holiday to act? Your kindness and compassionate actions will be blessed. “Every first day of the week let each of you at his own house set something aside in store as he may be prospering.” (1 Corinthians 16:2) The apostle Paul gave that advice to early Christians who wanted to help the poor. Could you ‘set aside,’ or budget, some money that you can regularly give to individuals or to a church or organization that uses its funds wisely? In this way, you ensure that you care for the needy while still giving within your means.
“Do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16) Notice that besides “the sharing of things with others,” we must also remember “the doing of good,” or helpful acts. For example, wise parents train their children to help the elderly with everyday tasks; to encourage the sick by means of a card, a visit, or a phone call; and to take a personal interest in other children who are poor or suffer from a disability. As a result, children learn to be kind and generous year-round.
Conclusion: So this Christmas season let us all be little generous towards the poor, and also continue our generosity towards them during the forthcoming year too. We all can make a difference in their lives. Let us give to the less fortunate families and children a feeling of hope, and make their Christmas cheerful. Better late than never-you still can be Santas by cheering up the less fortunate children and adults in the true Christmas spirit of love and giving, and show them that you care. Yes, we all can do it!
“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” – Dale Evans
Rev. Fr. C. Joseph, Counsellor-St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous) Jakhama

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