REASON FOR THE SEASON by Rector Chris Girata
REASON FOR THE SEASON was published in the Katy Trail Weekly, "The Good Word" Column, #25 | December 7, 2019
Chris Girata is the Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX.
In my church, we celebrate the season of Advent. The season of Advent is a little more than four weeks before Christmas Day. This season invites us to prepare for Christmas with a meaningful amount of intentionality. Rather than allowing ourselves to slip into the commercial rush of gift buying, we are invited to slowly and thoughtfully consider what many have termed “the reason for the season.” Ask most of the little children in my church what happens on Christmas and I expect (or hope!) the answer will be that it’s Jesus’s birthday. That would mean that the reason for the season must be Jesus. But I’m not quite sure that’s right.
However, if we’re not careful, the holiday trappings can be a distraction from what I believe is the most important part of this holiday season: the chance to prepare.
For generations, the focus of this season has been on the birth of Jesus at Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I believe people have actually missed the point. You see, Christmas is a wonderful celebration of a special birth, but the reason for the birth, in fact “the reason for the season,” is really you and me. The goodness that we are drawn to, the hopefulness that came down at Christmas is really all about us.
Do not be mistaken, this article is not about self-centeredness. Instead, this article is really a reminder that we have a big purpose on this earth. Our lives are not just about getting ahead, succeeding at our jobs or winning. The purpose of our lives is much, much bigger. We have been put here for a reason, and each year, we get a reminder that that reason is to give of ourselves, with generosity and gratitude, to others.
The tradition of giving gifts did not arise out of wealth, but out of poverty. Although there are many versions of the story, St. Nicholas is said to have been a man with a generous spirit. He recognized the needs of children and families around him, and so began to secretly give gifts to help meet those needs. St. Nicholas gave gifts because he could, and he felt compelled to be generous because he was confident of God’s love for him. Throughout time, the tradition of gift-giving has evolved away from this simple idea of meeting needs of those most vulnerable in our communities, but perhaps we can bring that back.
Could we, collectively, turn this season from one of focusing on what we might get, to a season of focusing on what we can give?
This year, before we get swept up in the rush of the Christmas season, I invite you to take time to consider how much you have, how much your family has and how grateful we can be. Now, how easy would it be to show your gratitude in meaningful ways to those in your community who are most vulnerable? Could you make a donation of toys, socks or food to agencies near your home or office? Could you take your children to a place where they could spend time with people who seem different than them, but are perhaps more similar than we like to admit? Could we, collectively, turn this season from one of focusing on what we might get, to a season of focusing on what we can give?
As Christmas nears, may you not only be blessed, but may you be aware of your blessings. And may that increased awareness and gratitude compel you to make a small change in your own traditions. When we do small things with big love, we change the world.
"The Good Word" Column is published bi-weekly, and can be picked up at the Saint Michael South Entrance.
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