Some gifts are not for sale
Have you noticed how during the winter holidays we think more about Santa than about Christ? It’s like we’re celebrating Clausmas, not Christmas. I love Santa, don’t get me wrong. I love all the glitter and abundance in our homes. And yet ....
I have the feeling that we let ourselves distracted in all that pressure to do something special for Christmas.
We hear about the "Christmas spirit" everywhere. Even buying more beer or soft drinks is in the Christmas spirit, if you ask the advertisers worldwide.
We don't realize that buying seems to be the heart of the holiday. It's true there's a lot of talking about charity, too. And people are indeed more charitable than usual.
But what if even charity becomes just one item on a special "to do" list? What to do for Christmas ... let's see. I'll buy a lot of (consumable) special things, something special to wear, some special gifts, get a special hairdo and then do some charity. What if even charity becomes part of a party-time ritual and loses its meaning?
Or maybe it's ok. I don't know. I just feel that it's not enough if we go back to gossip, envy, selfishness or intolerance.
Now, going back to distractions, I used to clean the house up to the last moment. The more I cared about a holiday, the more I wanted to honor it by tidiness. I used to go through the same marathon of house chores on Easter and Christmas and arrived exhausted at the finishing line.
Thank God I'm a mom now! I've downgraded cleaning from impeccable to acceptable and started to spend more and more time with my little one on Christmas Eve.
Vladimir is a very curious kid, never too tired to find out something new. When the evening came, we listened to carols, of course, and then he wanted to know details about the star of Bethlehem and the Magi. The "Bible for kids" that Santa brought him two years ago was very helpful again.
We read about Jesus, but we also read about David and Goliath - his favorite 'fight' episode - and about Noah and his ark. "How could God even think about destroying the earth? Kill the people? Why??? God is good, isn't He?" My son was obviously puzzled.
"Maybe when he created the world, he liked it so much that he wanted to keep it perfect. But people started to make mistakes after mistakes and he thought that the only way to set things right was to start over. Maybe in the beginning he was very good at thinking, but not as good at feeling. Or maybe he felt too much. No one knows. And yes, God is good. He's Our Father, as the prayer says".
That was the best answer I could find. Making suppositions about God is a very delicate thing and I remember how, in my mind, I asked Him to forgive me for any improper words I might have said.
After reading to my son about the rainbow covenant God made with Noah, I felt the need to do a bit of research for myself. I knew that it was God's promise to never destroy the world by flood again, but I wanted to read the actual Bible verses and google some details about context and meanings. The search results included a very beautiful passage which I read then for the first time. It was about another of God's covenants, the covenant of peace:
"To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you. [Isaiah 54:9-10]
„Şi lucrul acesta va fi pentru Mine ca şi cu apele lui Noe: după cum jurasem că apele lui Noe nu vor mai veni pe pământ, tot aşa jur că nu Mă voi mai mânia pe tine şi nu te voi mai mustra. Pot să se mute munţii, pot să se clatine dealurile, dar dragostea Mea nu se va muta de la tine şi legământul Meu de pace nu se va clătina”, zice Domnul, care are milă de tine. [Isaia 54:9-10]
Love, peace and compassion.
These three amazing words have stuck with me since Christmas Eve. They're not just words, they're gifts. The kind of vital gifts that can't be bought. The kind of vital gifts that can resist through faith inside us, all of us, in spite of all imaginable adversity outside us.
I'm far from knowing what this passage fully means, but I feel it’s pure gold. I can sense the infinite patience and kindness in God’s words. It’s like a preview of Christian unconditional love, as described in the New Testament. A preview of Jesus Christ himself, as the unfailing embodiment of love, peace and compassion.
A wonderful preview of a deep Christmas spirit.
Or maybe a Christianity Eve?