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Friday of the Third Week of Advent | Jason Gaarder

O Key of David
Opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom
Come and free the prisoners of darkness

Biblical imagery of going from darkness to light has made its way into secular Christmas traditions in a wide variety of ways from the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge to the beautiful proliferation of holiday lights in many neighborhoods.  While it may feel antithetical to Christian ideals of Christmas to see Christmas merchandise in stores before Halloween, God, in his infinite wisdom, has created avenues to share the light of his teachings with us through secular Christmas traditions just as through the story of the birth of Jesus.

Let’s look at one great example - Christmas gifts.  When we were in the “darkness” as children (and what a magical darkness it was), our self-centered focus was often on what we would get out of Christmas. I am sure many of us can still look back in our mind’s eye and feel a warm glow when we think about the best present that we ever received from Santa.  

That focus began to shift through Christmas rites of passage such as spending our own money on a heartfelt gift for our parents and experiencing their unconditional gratitude.   Then, Christmas transitioned into an opportunity to donate gifts to those less fortunate and to experience the magic of giving gifts to our own young children.  Without realizing it, at some point on that continuum, the warm glow from thinking about the best Christmas gift ever received began to pale in comparison to the beautiful feeling of giving even the smallest Christmas gift to someone else.

Through the secular tradition of Christmas gifts God has given us a tangible experience with Jesus’s own words that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

PRAYER:

Dear Lord,
Stoke the goodness in our hearts to blaze brightly so that we may always honor You through selfless acts of kindness and charity.   Help us to bloom in fulfillment with dignity, generosity, and compassion and without falling prey to self-righteousness or contentment.   Amen.

-Jason Gaarder