CHRISTmas seems to be a time of “sharing”. We share greetings and family updates in our CHRISTmas cards (or we don’t)…..
We share gifts with people we love and people who matter to us (or we don’t)…..
We share fruitcake because it matters to us…. and it is received and appreciated (or it isn’t)…..
What will we share this CHRISTmas? What HAVE you shared, thus far, this CHRISTmas?
I recently “shared” some of Aunt Wilma’s White Fruitcake, sending it north to Villanova, PA, to my friend Rachel. Rachel received it gladly… she knew it was a gift given in love. And she wanted to like it, because she loved the giver of the gift. And so she received. And thus she “shared”. Little two year old Emma was joyously watching her open it. “Fruitcake?” she repeated after her Mother. “Yes, Fruitcake! Do you want some?” Well, innocent little Emma partook.
Sometimes life brings unpalatable events our way. Unexpected, unwanted events. What do you even do with all that? Choke it down, playing the martyr, taking the “grin and bear it” approach? Or perhaps, like young Emma, you take it in but it literally makes you sick at your stomach and immediately you throw it back. You just can’t help yourself. It’s almost like a reflex reaction to the distasteful! Emma’s First Fruitcake!
Well, I extend grace to Emma’s young palette, regarding the fruitcake. Albeit Carl says this is what’s run amuck with the fruitcake’s overall poor performance! He thinks people have just been given fruitcake way too young, before they were old enough to handle it, and thus when they puked (as can happen…. i.e. ask Emma), then they’re forever scarred and will forevermore HATE fruitcake. (that’s what’s wrong with America and the fruitcake’s reputation, is what I think!) But I digress……
As I think about CHRISTmas and “sharing” and pondering what I have received and what I have “shared”, my mind goes back to that first CHRISTmas. A message was received by a group of hard-working laborers, men out in a field just doing their job…..tending to their sheep.
Luke 2:8-20 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Reading this, what do we learn about this message the angels brought, this “news” they shared?
It calms fears
It’s good news
It brings great joy
It’s for ALL people
So what will these shepherds do with all this? Well, as I ponder the situation, it seems to me…..
They heard They saw They shared They praised
And it occurs to me……why do we not? Think about the things we have heard…… from the voice of Angels, from the voice of the Lord, from Luke, from Paul, from John, from Matthew, from Mark, the list goes on and on. We’ve “heard” it just now, as we read Luke’s account in Chapter 2. So what are WE going to do with this good news that calms fears, that brings great joy and is for all people?
Sometimes we can “hear” yet not really hear……. we’re so busy with our “fields and our sheep” that we actually never really take the time to hear it in the first place! Certainly those hard-working shepards could’ve taken this approach. After all, they have a job to do. What about all those sheep? And the thing is… if we don’t hear…. will we ever truly “see”? And if we haven’t heard or seen…. then what in the world WOULD we have to share? Our opinions? Our emotions? A feel-good story about a cute sheep? And thus our praise is turned inward…. toward ourselves and our sheep!
But as we hear, truly hear, the Holy Spirit will bring us to SEE!
And as we SEE, we “get it”, the love overtakes us and thus we have something to SHARE!
And the natural outpouring that will unfold…..glorifying and praising God for all that we have heard and seen, as it has been told to us!
So how will we receive this message of CHRISTmas? Too busy to even hear it? Will we receive it with fear? Fear we don’t have time for it? Fear of what it will require of us? Fear of sharing? Or will the beauty of the message bring us such hope and wonder and joy that we run to see for ourselves? And then we run to share the amazement we ourselves have discovered!
I think back to Rachel and her gifted fruitcake. She received it gladly… knowing it was a gift given in love. She knew the heart of the giver and thus she determined to receive it and love it. Did it mean that it would necessarily go down easy? Perhaps not. But I tend to think that she chose to focus more on the love with which it was given!
So as we move into the New Year….. my encouragement: BE IN THE WORD! Be in the Word where you can actually hear and see the love of the Giver, where you can get to know Him and discover His heart and His love toward you. And thus you will have something to share and your life will be filled with praise and glory to our God who IS love, our God who draws us to Himself, our God who reveals Himself to us, our God who calms our fear!
Check this out if you’d like to have a great little “read-thru schedule” for reading through the Bible in 2018….. Bible Unity Reading Plan