First Down (December 3, 2017)

Dear Friends,

As a child I looked forward to the holiday season with the anticipation of wondering what my presents would be, decorating the Christmas tree and knowing a wonderful meal would be enjoyed by our family. Memories still exist of a different time when Christmas was filled with awe and wonder. As we get older, some of these past joys could possibly turn into stress: dealing with crowds, countless parties to attend and wondering if the dinner experience will be a good one. We all can have different experiences this time of year, whether good things will be happening or the season will become a challenge.

Here is what I know is good each and every year: the amazing spirit of generosity. It seems like overnight the hearts of many people turn to making sure others are taken care of this time of year. If children are involved, it can be the desire to be sure that their experience of Christmas will be somewhat like the ones we experienced. Families can be more open to having other people join them at their own dinner table. We have a desire to make sure that no one would be alone at this time of year.

I really can’t explain why people go from a busy schedule, that at times can make us blind to the needs of others, and almost by magic, people stop and begin to focus on other people’s needs. Some would call this the spirit of the holiday of Christmas. It is hard to deny that generosity flows from many hearts. Even if we dread this time of year, we can find some comfort that many will be taken care of by others.

Once this time of year ends, it almost seems like over night the pressures of life and its demands on our time turn us away from helping one another. Somehow I wish the “spirit” could last longer. I suppose if Christians would consider the “Holy Spirit” a way that we watch out for one another, be generous with our time for those in need and give the gifts of ourselves to others, then we might understand that the “spirit” we feel at this time of year really comes from God.

I would invite each of us to consider that everything that makes this time of year special for us might be carried over deep into the new year. It does not have to be a holiday type feeling, rather, we can listen to the spirit of generosity, giving and caring. These are the things that are the hallmark of being Christian Disciples in Mission, Living Beyond the Christmas season.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric