Reflections – December 2019
Awaking this morning, I heard in my mind children singing an old English nursery rhyme and Christmas song that proclaims:
“Christmas is coming the geese are getting fat;
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do.
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you.”
I chuckled to myself thinking, “What’s going on here? We aren’t even to Thanksgiving let alone flipping the calendar page to December!” Then superimposed on this musical reverie of dancing, singing children was a visual of other children making brown paper chains of gingerbread men. Well do I remember folding paper in such a manner that, when cut, they all held together hand to hand. But looking closely I saw that these chains of gingerbread men were special, for they were not all the same size. Some were taller; some were fat; others had been trimmed so they were quite short or skinny. Only their hands kept them connected. But there was more. Once the cutting was complete, the children began to decorate them with different faces and clothes. They were all still gingerbread men, but distinctly unique in appearance.
Each of us has our own holiday traditions. Some may be relatively new and just emerging. Others have been handed down through the generations in our families and are treasured. Some are a blending of different cultures. Each has special meaning but underlying it all, year after year, is the common message of comfort, hope, and joy that warms our hearts as we celebrate — Christ the Savior is born! What great news is that!
Looking around the world we readily see that no two people are exactly alike. We look different. We dress differently. We think differently. We have different life experiences that shape our opinions, preferences, and decisions. Yet we are all created in the image and likeness of God Himself. What’s more, God loves each of us, both those who know Him and serve Him, and those who don’t yet know Him or may even profane Him. Yes, we are so much like those connected gingerbread men. We are indeed called to put a penny in the old man’s hat.
God has given every one of us a mission to reach the lost. He uses our different personalities and giftings to reach very different people. So we should not expect our ministry to resemble the product of a cookie cutter. We are to share the good news with others, however unlikely they may appear to be open to receiving it. Some of us share from a distance via the Deacons’ Angel Tree for children in our community. Others share via any one of a myriad of ministries seeking our help. We may give to the Christmas Joy Offering. Yes, we feed and clothe the hungry and poor, etc. While not minimizing those efforts, I sometimes wonder how many people actually come to faith via these routes. So on the personal level, have we asked the Lord to show us who we might actually share Jesus with this Christmas? We might be surprised at who He reveals to us. We probably need to be on high alert, abandoning any preconceived ideas of who He would choose, and not be the least bit dismissive. And we need to be mentally and spiritually prepared for those unanticipated encounters that make for delightful testimonies on the back side. Those are the gifts that last a lifetime for the recipient and can be taken into eternity. Wouldn’t we all love to be participants in that type of gift giving? May Christmas 2019 be a stellar one for each of us and the ones the Holy Spirit has already prepared to receive Jesus.