Christmas gift suggestions:
to your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
— Oren Arnold
We’re down to the last 24 hours. Do you have all your shopping done?
I have been known to be out shopping at one of those places that stays open until late, late on Christmas Eve.
Until I got smart and “moved the feast,” telling everyone that as a pastor, I wan’t any longer going to give presents for Christmas. When I aim for presents for Epiphany, I have a deadline — the 12th day of Christmas, and enough breathing room to actually do it thoughtfully; I lessen the post-Christmas let-down; I take advantage of after-Christmas savings. And sometimes I think that the Latin American tradition of gifts on ‘Tres Reyes’ is more direct — we give gifts to one another because in so doing, we are giving to Jesus. (The Anglo tradition of gifts on Christmas Day is, of course, to remind us of the gift that God gave us in Jesus — but it seems pretty divorced from that much of the time.)
I do have one editorial suggestion: wouldn’t it be more inclusive and less consumerist if the prompt read, “To your neighbor, service”?
Have you thought about the non-material gifts you have given, give or could give? I think that’s what this prompt is trying to get us to consider. Though perhaps not as tangible, such gifts might turn out practical when the time is too short, the lines too long, and overnight shipping deadlines are passed.
For today’s Advent exercise, try and be as specific as possible and come up with individuals and scenarios:
Who is the enemy you can forgive?
Who is the opponent you can offer tolerance to… a truce?
Who is the friend who needs your heart?
The neighbor you can serve?
The child you mean to be a good example for?
How could you show yourself greater respect?
And what could it look like to share “the love of God” (which is technically what “charity” means) in some real way to all people?
Extra-credit: Read Psalm 2 at least a couple of times today, with significant time in between readings. What does it say to you?