Advent Day 27: The Gift of Christmas …

The American Declaration of Independence says we have an “unalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness.  God created us to be happy and joyful “in this world and the next,” and Jesus says the same several times in John 14- 17.  The only difference between the two is that any happiness that is demanded from life never becomes happiness because it is too narcissistically and self-consciously pursued.  The “joy the world cannot give” (John 14:27)  always comes as a gift to those who wait for it, expect it and make room for it inside themselves. The first is self-assertion, the second is self-surrender. The first is taking; the second is receiving. The two entirely different human dynamics.  You do not catch a butterfly by chasing it.  You sit still and it alights on your shoulder.  Then is chooses you. That is true happiness.
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas

Giving and Receiving

This prayer is based on the scriptural imperative to give of what we have received. Our gifts are recalled and named so we can see our abundance. We then respond with our willingness to share this abundance with others …

Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you. Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands— all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.
— Luke 6:37-38

…You have received without paying, so give without being paid.
— Matthew 10:8.

Response to each: The gift I have received, I will give as a gift.

You have received mercy, kindness, and unconditional love from our God …

You have many physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual abilities that can be used to better the lives of others …

You have people in your life who have believed in you when you did not believe in yourself, people who stood by you in your difficult times …

You have a heart capable of great compassion, empathy, and tenderness … You have inner strength, the grace of conversion, the gift of hope, and the desire for good …

You have food on your table, clothes in your closet, and a roof over your head …

You have access to medical care, good education, music and the arts, and numerous sources of communication …

You have religious freedom, the power of free speech, advocacy groups, and structures for promoting justice and protecting citizens …

You have a marvelous planet on which to live, with beautiful forests, rich soil for growing food, priceless minerals, precious creatures of all kinds …

You have the opportunity for spiritual renewal, growth, and maturity in your relationship with the divine, continual access to opportunities for faith development …

Gracious Giver, so much has been bestowed upon me. I lack for little and yet yearn for so much. Continue to teach me to appreciate what has come to me as blessing and gift. Keep on urging and challenging me to share what I have. Help me to give generously and freely of my bounty. I offer you my thanks for all that has been granted to me. Amen.
— Joyce Rupp from Out of the Ordinary

A Christmas Psalm

O Blessed One,
it is said that Christmas is for children.

Indeed, I agree:
It’s only a feast for the young of heart,
a feast for finding beneath the tree
gifts to surprise and delight the eternal child.

Peel back the scabs of cynicism from my eyes
so that this calloused and aging child,
may see holiness blazing at the tip of every branch,
may see every tree as a Christmas tree

Let me not be ashamed to dance with delight
at hidden gifts wrapped in shimmering paper
with bows of rainbow-coloured ribbon.

But also grant me the youthful and wide-eyed wonder
to recognise, and even to expect,
life-giving miracles on every street corner,
miracles of kindness and generosity and care.

Gift my all-too-calculating heart
with the excitement of anticipation
to truly receive the gifts of life,
the capacity to feast and rejoice.

Give birth within me to a spaciousness of heart
that can celebrate this feast
of the birth of Christ, the Child,
as a child.
— Edward Hays from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim

See Also:

Merry mantel with lighted Joy sign pine cuttings with ornaments a centerpiece boots vase with poinsettias red glass vase with mums and pine wreath over a fireplace and a Christmas terrarium on a red box

(photo credit)

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