Have you driven around today?
Mom and I drove to Pueblo and back. As we drove through the towns of Southeastern Colorado I noticed all the empty parking lots at closed businesses.
And it gave me a good feeling.
I was glad that most people were home enjoying Christmas. Most people, except those providing vital services – the health care providers and first responders, law enforcement and military – were celebrating Christmas.
As I drove and pondered the empty parking lots, I thought about the impact that Jesus Christ has had on the world.
There are the spiritual benefits of redemption and salvation. They are why Christ came. He did not come to create a holiday that inspires a month long shopping frenzy.
He came to reconcile our relationship with God the Father. But I believe that He also reconciles human relationships. Even if it is for a day, family and friends do not let differences stand in the way of coming together. Sometimes that momentary truce is enough to heal major disagreements.
The day that we celebrate as the birthday of Jesus Christ inspires altruist actions and selflessness. Because of Christmas, we become better people.
This year the news featured a middle school student who had been bullied. He wrote a grant, received toys from that grant and has personally wrapped them for needy children in his community.
How many similar projects did not make the nightly news? How many were inspired by that news story?
It is the spirit of the season of Christmas that inspires many individuals and organizations to raise funds and donate food and toys for those who are less fortunate.
Right now there is an ad running for the ASPCA. You know the one with the poor puppies and kitties who have been abandoned and abused. They end the ad with the comment that it is the season of giving.
How has it become known as the season of giving?
Giving is the tradition of Christmas which is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Granted, the giving has become extremely commercialized. But in the commercialization there are bright spots like the young man mentioned above.
From Thanksgiving until the end of the year nonprofit organizations raise the majority of their funding. Granted some of our giving is driven by promises of tax deductions; but it is also the example of Christ’s gift to us that inspires many to give to organizations making a difference in the world.
I suspect that doing good is contagious.
I have given this a good deal of thought. You see, I travel with my mom. A road trip requires frequent pit stops. Mom gets out of the car and slowly approaches the door of the convenience store with her walker. I am slowly walking beside her. Amazingly, people see her slow approach and rush to the door to hold it open for her (did I mention slow?) approach. They seem to be so happy to help her.
I have a theory. I can’t prove it; but I believe that they are nicer after helping Mom. I mean, if we do something good and it makes us feel good, aren’t we more likely to do a similar action again? And that could inspire another good deed and another .
So is the giving of the Christmas season. The stories of giving, warm our hearts and inspire us to act in similar ways. Once we have given to help pitiful puppies maybe we are inclined to give to earthquake survivors.
Giving – doing good – is not the true meaning behind Christmas.
The true meaning behind Christmas is so much more than learning to give. But it is a fringe benefit of Christmas.
Countless businesses close and give their employees time off to be with their families. While they spend time with their families some relationships are strengthened. It’s not a perfect picture but it is a hopeful picture.
And that is one of the things that Christ gives us – hope.