Christmas is here. It feels as though it snuck up on me this year. Only a few weeks ago the days were longer, and I was planting pansies, and enjoying walks around the neighborhood without freezing. Now the days are shorter, the sun's warmth doesn't break the chill, and my carefully planted pansies are frozen with a crust of snow covering them. And Christmas is here.
I read an essay recently where the writer said that Christmas is summer for the soul in the midst of winter. I believe it. The warmest I've felt this season has been when my thoughts and activities have been focused on preparing for the big day. Whether I'm baking yummy treats and listening to Christmas carols, carefully wrapping gifts and packaging them for mailing, writing out cards with wishes for joy, peace and light, reading stories of the first Christmas, or listening to a Christmas concert with friends, I have felt the warmth of God's love for me and others.
This is the warmth that pierces through the cold and reaches the far corners of the heart. The warmth that causes hearts to soften and people to look beyond themselves. The warmth and light that opens hearts and minds, and outpourings of generosity towards neighbors everywhere. I have been extremely blessed this year to know many people who carry this warmth with them no matter the time of year. People who understand that everyone no matter the circumstance, all people are valuable and deserving of help and love. This has helped me to remember the warmth and spirit of Christmas all year and then to pass it on to others.
The story of Ebeneezer Scrooge underscores the very essence of the original Christmas story--that love is truly the agent that causes men's hearts to change for the better. I think the essence of Scrooge's change is love. The ghost of Christmas past showed Scrooge just how much love he had ignored and given up in his life, and he finally experienced regret for this. The ghost of Christmas present opened his eyes to all the love currently in his life and his own capacities for experiencing that love. When he saw this, he grasped onto that love and allowed his heart to change and experience love again. Scrooge knew what awaited him, because the ghost of Christmas to come had shown him the bleak outcomes of his current path. Scrooge also learned that it is never to late to let this love in and be changed by it.
We all have the same choice in our life. We can grasp onto the warmth that is God's love for us or ignore it. We can choose to let this love and light work in our life to make us better and then bless others, or we can walk away into a dim world empty of hope and possibility. We can let this love change us. I'm a firm believer that an old dog can be taught new tricks, it just takes longer for them to be learned.
For me, Christmas is a well-timed and necessary reminder during the cold, dark days of winter that light and warmth can be held within me and shared at all times. It helps me remember that I don't always need a new star hung in the sky to remember the true meaning of life, or for that matter the true meaning of Christmas.
So, Merry Christmas and may the love and light of God's gift to us warm your heart this season and always.
I am the light of the world:
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,
but shall have the light of life. -John 8:12