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Advent Reflection – December 22nd

December 21st, 2017 by Violet Lee

December 22nd

Rev. Dr. Violet Lee

We learn lessons from books but we learn about life from people. We admire or despise what we see in others and so know the better what to do, or not to do ourselves. As it comes up to Christmas, a lot of people try to earn a little extra. I asked one pensioner what she was going to do with it. She is well over 70, has only her pension, some small savings and what she earns working a few hours each week. She said it was to buy something for her grandchildren for Christmas. I know that she could do with a lot of things herself, indeed what to her are luxuries, to her children are necessities. Nevertheless her greatest pleasure was to give to her grandchildren—to give pleasure to others and not to count the cost to herself. Therein lies the message of Christmas written more clearly in her deeds than in any sermon or book.

– Margaret Thatcher

I wholeheartedly agree with Margaret Thatcher on this note.  So much of what we learn about life, we learn from people.  I believe we learn something from every person we meet, for good or for ill.  While much can be said for theoretical knowledge, experiential knowledge and the lessons we learn vicariously from the lives lived before and around us can carry so much weight in our development.  In reading her quote, I was transported back to memories of my mother at Christmas.  Just before Thanksgiving we—my brother, sister, and I—marked the second anniversary of her death.  She was like the pensioner in Thatcher’s story who tried to earn a little more at Christmas time for the sake of her grandchildren.  With limited financial resources, my mother took great care in planning her budget to shop for Christmas.  This way, she would know exactly how much additional earnings would be required, or close enough to make an educated guess.  When I say “mastered,” she had mastered buying for teenagers, then young adults.  This was the case as my brother and sister’s children grew into young adulthood.  My eldest nephew was 20 years old when my daughter was born.  Then, all of a sudden my mother was faced with a new challenge.  Here she was given to buying cute baby clothes all over again!  She loved it.  There was something special about the infant toys and books that struck a familiar and nostalgic cord for her.  It seemed so easy to buy for them the things she thought they would enjoy; not to buy their love, simply to marvel at their joy.  She loved little children.  But then again, they are too cute not to love.

This is the case for the Baby Jesus as we await his arrival.  Yes, there is a certain cuteness to a newborn baby.  Lest we forget he was both fully human and fully divine, due to touch the hearts of so many.  He was God’s gift to humanity.  In her closing words Margaret Thatcher writes, “…the message of Christmas written more clearly in her deeds… to give pleasure to others and not to count the cost to herself.”  What would it take for us to take more seriously this admonition this Christmas?

Prayer:  Gracious God, we pause to acknowledge the lessons learned in this life from those whose lives touch our own.  As we see and hear the sounds of little children this Christmas, help us to cherish the gift of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Violet Lee

Rev. Dr. Violet Lee is the Executive Program Minister at Christ Church.