Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! -2 Corinthians 9:15
Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,
Advent (or Christmas) has become the season of gifts. Starting around Thanksgiving Day, our ears and eyes are bombarded by advertisements about how we should express our love to each other through material gifts. Certainly, giving or receiving a gift from someone you love can be a very pleasant thing. But when gift giving becomes a mandatory burden, and receiving a gift an expectation or demand, things can become very unpleasant indeed. When did we decide that the most vivid and definite expression of our care and love for our family, friends, and neighbors should be expressed through material gifts?
The origin of gift giving in Advent could be traced to the wise men from the East bearing gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to baby Jesus. And, the spiritual origin of gift giving could stem from the Christian belief that God gave himself as the gift to humanity in order to restore the broken and lost connection and love between God and mankind. According to the biblical stories, humans were responsible for breaking the intimate bond with their Creator. But the inspiring message from the Gospels is that God decided to give himself to humanity as the gift through which the brokenness could be mended and healed. Instead of judging or accusing humanity, God made himself the gift of reconnection and restoration. This is the love of God and the heart of the Advent message.
Often, it feels as if there is so much darkness in the world that we have all been consumed by it. Yet, in truth the darkness has no power over light. Christ came as the light to humanity in the middle of the dark night, and taught us that we should do as he did for us: to be the light ourselves and push away darkness through love, healing, and empathy for one another. The best and most meaningful gift that you can ever give to your loved ones is the gift of yourself being and behaving in a loving, healing, and mindful way.
For just this weekend, why not try your best to see only the loving and positive aspects of your loved ones, and to act and talk in only a healing and mindful way?
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee