To start our devotion, here’s a little Christmas story I found on the Internet.
“A few years ago my baby was very ill, and she was hospitalized six times within a ten-month period. She spent two weeks in the PICU of our nearest children’s hospital during one admission—intubated and fighting to get better, which she thankfully did. How grateful I was for the amazing nurses, doctors, and volunteers who made our very difficult time in the hospital as comfortable as possible.
“While I was there, I noticed that they were short of books and toys, and with Christmas just about six weeks away, our family knew exactly what we wanted to do. We collected toys and books from friends and people in our community, bought a few new ones, and then took them as a family to donate them to the PICU.
“It was such an emotional night, and our hearts were full of gladness and thankfulness. It’s still one of our most treasured memories, and even though my children were almost all small, they remember too, and they’ll never forget the feelings they had.”
I’m sure you will agree that this story is quite heartwarming. First of all, the parents’ child getting well was a gift from God in itself, and then the kindness they showed is wonderful as well.
Having said that, however, something still troubles me. It is in the sentence which I found further down the webpage that says, “Acts of service and kindness epitomize what the Christmas season is truly about.”
“What on Earth is wrong with that, Tim?” you may ask. “You’ve said some strange things in past blogs, but this time I think you’ve gone too far!”
I understand how you feel, and of course an act of kindness is never wrong. The fact that it isn’t, though, is just my point. I would change the above sentence to read, “Acts of service and kindness epitomize what the Christmas season should motivate us to be about all year long.”
To be fair, maybe that is what the writer of this story meant. But I get so tired of movies and books portraying Christmas as some kind of magical time when people show extra kindness once a year.
Now before I point any fingers, let me start by asking myself this question: If I am really setting aside one day to honor the birth of Jesus, then why don’t I go out of my way for others on the other 364 days?
Luckily, the following parable which Jesus told illustrates the fact that I am not alone. So while this may not be a traditional yuletide tale, maybe we need to add it to our Christmas programs.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your
neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and
went away, leaving him half dead.
“A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
“The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
–Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
Jesus is still saying the same thing today. But many times we ignore His voice, and we think more about presents and holly than our neighbors. We need to find creative ways to show the love which we have been shown by God.
It is not that we don’t want to do this necessarily. However, I think we all get so busy that we take our eyes off of Christ. Having important things that must get done, therefore, we often forget the most important thing about the Christmas season. Maybe, in part, we can blame ourselves for people wanting to turn Christmas in to just another holiday.
Instead of toying with Christmas, it is my contention that we need to take the joy of Christmas into the rest of the year. All of us can do this by starting with baby steps, and showing others small acts of kindness. We may need to rearrange our schedules a bit to do this, but I think that first we need to sit down with God and rearrange our own attitudes.
Have fun this year, and make it the best Christmas you’ve ever had by sharing your Christmas joy all year long!
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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