Article by Peter Koeppel, member of Trinity Memorial Church in Binghamton and the diocesan Stewardship Resources team.
See more Stewardship meditations and get stewardship resources for your parish at cnyepiscopal.org/stewardship>
“God bless us, every one!” Who doesn’t know Tiny Tim’s invocation over his family’s Christmas dinner, which becomes Scrooge’s final exclamation in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Maybe you heard it in one of the numerous movie adaptations, featuring George C. Scott or Sir Patrick Stewart, or maybe Mickey Mouse or the Muppets; maybe you heard it in a local stage production. Or when it comes to holiday viewing, maybe you prefer Miracle on 34th Street, or It’s a Wonderful Life, or maybe A Charlie Brown’s Christmas, or Home Alone. Advent and Christmas define a time in which we dream of a world of miracles, justice, peace, joy and love. On screen and stage, it’s surely happening.
Advent and Christmas define a time in which we dream of a world of miracles, justice, peace, joy and love.
But as these movies or plays pass before your mind, and you might notice that they focus on the worldly “dressing” we have put on Advent and Christmas far more than on the miracle we remember and celebrate.
It’s entirely true that love is at the root of it all: God’s love for God’s creation is at the root of sending God’s only begotten Son into our world, and the telling of the Christmas miracles by Luke and Matthew form the foundation for much of our Christmas lore. Together with love for our families and friends, these tellings make up the root of how we celebrate Christmas. We even hearken back to the gifts of the magi to explain why gift-giving as part of our Christmas celebration is such an important expression of our love.
The gifts of the magi…were not that year’s “must have” gift, but…foreshadowed the newborn’s child’s life in this world.
Yet, the gifts of the magi were far more symbolic than many of our own gifts can claim to be. They were chosen not because they were that year’s “must have” gift, but because they foreshadowed the newborn child’s life in this world. Additionally, the three magi were parsimonious in their generosity: each of them brought just one gift, each gift being far more meaningful, hence precious, than the biggest mountain of gifts underneath one of our Christmas trees could ever be. And they didn’t leave behind mountains of wrapping paper to be disposed of—hopefully to be recycled.
Can we be stewards in our gift-giving?
So, here is a challenge to all of us who are blessed to have become and remain parents: can we be stewards in gift-giving to our children, just as the three magi were, by being intentional? Can we show our love not in abundance of gifts, but in abundance of love in choosing gifts? And let’s not forget those in our family or among our friends whose wish for children remained unfilled, or who have suffered the loss of a child—let’s keep them in our prayers, and look for ways to share God’s love with them—at this time, especially!
As we carry God’s love and blessings into the world this Christmas season and always, may God, indeed, bless us, every one and all!