Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Presents

"Presents!" The shout goes out. It’s so much fun to choose a gift for someone you love, or even for a stranger in one of the charitable Christmas drives. It warms your heart. If you’re there when the gift is opened, you look forward to seeing the recipient’s face light up. And no matter how old you are or how much you own, an unexpected gift is always a pleasure.
I hope your festive week holds many happy moments as you give and receive tokens of love.
Then again, have you ever been given a gift you didn’t like at all? It’s hard to smile sincerely and express enthusiastic appreciation to the giver. I laugh at the funny videos of children opening a present they didn’t want – a little mouth opening into a wail of disappointment, a cute child suddenly throwing the disappointing gift across the room in a tantrum. To be honest, my burst of laughter quickly turns to a headshake over these visuals of human ego at its worst.
Since an evil fairy attending my birth cursed me with the unwelcome gift of a mood disorder ( as they now call depression and its fellows), I have spent many years learning to appreciate the positive. Now that I’m mostly free from the curse, I write this blog to help me and others enjoy the bright side, to be thankful for the daily gifts that life offers. 

Indeed, in this season of giving and receiving, I am conscious of the gifts that even curses like mental illness can bring. One of God’s awesome names is “Redeemer” because of the way S/He brings value to the worst disasters by re-making, out of agony and loss, carefully crafted, valuable, treasure. You and I would far rather not get the painful and disappointing surprises in the first place, but since that’s not an option, I’m glad we can hand them to the Redeemer for transformation. 
I share with you a tough comment on gift-giving from William Willimon

“…I suggest we are better givers than getters, not because we are generous people but because we are proud, arrogant people.
We prefer to think of ourselves as givers–powerful, competent, self-sufficient, capable people whose goodness motivates us to employ some of our power, competence and gifts to benefit the less fortunate. 
 [But in the birth of Christ] God wanted to do something for us so strange, so utterly beyond the bounds of human imagination, so foreign to human projection, that God had to resort to angels, pregnant virgins, and stars in the sky to get it done. We didn’t think of it, understand it or approve it. All we could do, at Bethlehem, was receive it. A gift from a God we hardly even knew.

Party on, dear readers! No matter the messiness of your Christmas..or your life, celebrate the best gift ever!