A Christmas Message From Rev. John D. Current
“To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”
— John 1:12
For many of us, receiving unconditional love is a very difficult task. Sometimes it is because we want it on our own terms. Oftentimes, we may find ourselves in a state of being where we are unable to receive anything from anyone of good intentions because our lives are closed. We may have become inaccessible due to our own experiences, fears, and doubts. Our hearts and lives may have become so closed that they are like tightened fists, unable to receive anything but ready to strike at anyone or threat that might come our way due to our anger or grief.
During the season of Christmas, our closed-fisted stance may become reinforced due to the season’s great pressures and activities. Instead of the promised joy of Christmas, this may be a time when we become tense, and anxiety hovers over relationships. Our closed nature is just the opposite of what the season of Christmas is all about because of the nature of our fisted lives.
So, this year, why not try something different? Instead of closing yourself to others and—most importantly—God, seek to be opened by reaching out to reconcile with anyone with whom you have a ruptured or unhappy relationship. This year has been a hard one for us all, and it will soon end. During the year, you have surely had many experiences with many types of people with whom you work or play where the “happenings” of our days have led relationships askew, and you may have closed yourself to others just a little more. Perhaps all involved were so busy with their own responsibilities and filled with hostility that there was no time or strength to give to the business of peacemaking and reconciliation.
You see, at Christmas, we celebrate God’s indescribable gift of Jesus. He comes into the world as the way into God's own heart, the truth of who God is, the life that God gives. God offers this gift to everyone and anyone through faith. However, we must be open enough to receive God’s gift. When we receive Jesus, we affirm that we are loved, accept it, and are forgiven unconditionally. Then, we begin to live differently. Our clenched-fisted hearts and lives open, and we become able to receive God’s gift wholeheartedly. Author Trevor Hudson states, “We encounter a new language—the language of self-giving and sacrificial love.” We are able to discover that through our openness to receive Jesus, we are children of God’s family. We have new habits to adopt—habits of worship and prayer, sharing and serving, giving and receiving. Once opened to the fullness of life, we live in a new Kingdom, breathing in the atmosphere of the spirit who transforms our hearts and minds.
Hudson goes on to say, “When we become open to receive, it is never for our sake alone. Receiving the gifts of God's unconditional acceptance and forgiveness, as well as the gifts of a new family and a new Kingdom in which the spirit is both powerfully present and active, makes giving ourselves to others in radical ways possible. We journey from self-centeredness to other centeredness, from greed to generosity, from hostility to hospitality. We become agents of God's new creation, and we spread the spirit of Christmas throughout the world.”
This Christmas, it is my hope that you might find a way to turn toward someone that you may have closed yourself to during the year. Perhaps just reach out to someone to whom you have no obligation, someone whose need is not so great that if you don’t respond to them you will not feel guilty—but to someone whom you might offer a private blessing. Perhaps, just pick up the phone and call or text someone whose life is not tied to yours in any way, but someone about whom you know something; and with this knowledge as a background, you share a word of reassurance, of comfort, of delight, of satisfaction. You will feel that out of the fullness of your own heart, you have “opened enough” to confer upon some unsuspecting human being a little Christmas love!
Rev. John D. Current