What if we lowered our sense of importance and expectation about all the things that need to be done before Christmas, and instead of expecting things to go perfectly or to get the perfect thing or give the perfect thing, what if instead our focus was on the way we could be the gift this Christmas? (Time: 3:56.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. And as we head through these last few days – one more Advent Sunday and a few days beyond that before Christmas – I know if your house is like mine, that all of us in some way are getting all the last minute things together. We've known Christmas has been coming for 365 days since the last Christmas and still here we are, 10 or 11 days away from it, and we're in a mad-dash scramble.
And I had this thought today as I listened to people talk about all that they had to do and the lists they have and how worried they are – will things arrive, will they arrive, would friends arrive, would family arrive – all of this worry about things coming out exactly as they need to on Christmas. And I thought, what if we lowered our sense of importance and expectation about all the things that need to be done before Christmas. And I’m not saying do away with them, keep the ones that you want. But what if we lowered our expectations about them, and instead of expecting things to go perfectly or to get the perfect thing or give the perfect thing, what if instead our focus was on the way we could be the gift this Christmas? Not all the things that we want to do, not all the things that we need to plan, not all the places that we need to be, and the disappointments around things that are not going to be able to happen as a surge continues. But instead, what we can do. Who can we be a gift to this Christmas?
I know very often our first thought is, let's make sure that we give a gift to people who are without something, and this is a different question. Please do give a gift to people who are without food or without shelter or clothes and have no way to give toys to their children. By all means, give a gift to them. But I also wonder, how can you be the gift. Often being the gift means something completely different. It means loving unconditionally, giving unconditionally, expecting nothing in return – simply giving ourselves and whatever we have to offer. Sometimes that's going to mean listening. Sometimes that's going to mean inviting somebody to be a part of things. Most people want and need a place to belong this Christmas – could they belong with you, if they belong with your family or with your friends? How can we be that gift, the gift that brings hope, the gift that brings friendship, the gift that brings knowing that another person cares about you? How can we do that for someone else?
It changes the focus immediately. I started thinking about how I could be the gift, and suddenly everything that I had on my list did not seem important. Because for every person and for every organization that I wanted to do something for, I knew more than anything what they needed from me was to hear how much I love them and how much I believe in them. That that is more powerful than anything else that I could do or get for them – that sense of knowing that they have my support, and they have my belief, and they have my prayers.
So I offer it to you – it's going to be different for all of us, but this Christmas, how about spending some time being the gift?