The end-of –the –year festive season is fast approaching and before we know it, we shall be singing Christmas carols, attending church services, feasting and exchanging gifts with loved ones. I only hope that the true meaning of Christmas to any Believer will not be lost in the merry making. The giving of gifts started with the three Wise men from the East who brought special gifts to honour and worship the baby born to be the king of the Jews.
The birth of Jesus is a free gift from our Father ; given to us out of his love. Jesus was later to die at the cross for our sins so that we could have eternal life. For as Jesus himself rightly said: If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free.
Just as I was thinking about giving and sharing, I found myself singing The Twelve Days of Christmas song. It is an old English Christmas carol (1780) which I was taught in junior school some donkey years ago! In this song a generous person sends a gift to his true love each day for the twelve days of Christmas – from the 25th December to the 6th January and the gifts become increasingly grand as the days go by.
I surprised myself by remembering all the twelve gifts though I have not sang this song for more than ten years!
Can you imagine receiving a gift from your true love each day for twelve days? I would probably walk on cloud nine or walk around as if I owned the world. For the love he feels in his heart would be driving him to send those twelve gifts. Amy Wilson Carmichael, an Irish Protestant missionary in India said:
“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.’’
I laughed out loud and then I got the idea of writing this Post just to remind ourselves of the importance of giving and sharing what we have. It is not the gift that I give that is important but the reason of why I give. You give because you want to and you give out of the love and concern in your heart for the person you give. This also makes us understand why the best gifts that a parent can give to a child cannot be found in any shop simply because they are too priceless: namely love and prayers from your heart.
Those of us who read the Bible cannot forget the Widow’s offering of two little copper coins into the temple treasury while the rich people dropped what they had to spare of their riches.
I also remembered that the poor and needy are always among us throughout the 365 days of the year so they need to be shown our loving kindness every day not just during the twelve days of Christmas.
This was ingrained in me by my late father at a tender age. There was a time when our home had the only telephone in the village( compare with the present time of mobile phones). It became the public phone to use for all emergencies in the village: to call a father at work to come home to take a sick child to the hospital, to call a father at work to attend to a child sent away from school due to unpaid fees, to call the Fire brigade to attend to a house on fire or kill a python at someone’s home.
Thankfully, the service was never abused for the emergencies were genuine. My father never charged for this service for all those years. He provided the service out of concern and love for his many neighbours.
My favourite writer Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese born American writer and philosopher said that you give most when you give of yourself- your time, efforts and energy.
“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and saw that life is all service. I served and saw that service is joy.’’
My father made time to serve gladly with Uganda Red Cross Society, YMCA, Lions’ Club, Uganda Boys’ Scouts Association, The Bible Society and many School boards.
Up to today I cannot figure out how he managed to get the hours to serve wholeheartedly during the 24 hours of the day! Surprisingly, he had time to supervise us do our holiday homework and even watch you hold the pen properly.
For all the festive seasons we spent deep in the village, my father would order a cow or two slaughtered then have small packages neatly wrapped in banana leaves sent to all his neighbours. We were involved in the delivery of some of those parcels. My father was not looking for his neighbours’ votes; he just wanted to share what he had with them. He understood that by giving to others , you live a meaningful life. Winston Churchill, a former British Prime Minister, once said that: “We make a living by what we get. We make life by what we give.’’
I have also come up with my own simple ways of giving to the needy for if I do not do it ; I would me dishonoring my father’s memory.
As the proverbs say : Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their lives.
Giving gladly is a form of ‘Double’ currency in that it enriches both the receiver and the giver.
I have experienced this first hand; for some years until the children flew the nest, together we would collect and sort out toys, books and items of clothing and shoes they had outgrown and I would take them to the nearest orphanage or SOS Village.
When I close my eyes now, I can see the big smiles on the administrators’ faces as I handed them the items. Much later when I would see a child wearing any of those items; I would smile to myself out of the joy in my heart.
May we all learn to give gladly to the poor and needy throughout the year not only at Christmas time.
Wishing you all a peaceful, joyful Christmas and a prosperous 2017.
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