Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas: I want lots of PRESENCE

I love Christmas. So many happy memories. I still think that my favorite was 10 grade as I met my biological family again. The feeling of being so loved and welcomed by people I hadn't known in years. I remember other Christmases with my adopted family and feeling the same welcoming and love by people that I was just meeting for the very first time. Christmas was always a special time of the year for me.

I spent two Christmases in Kenya. They were both difficult. Both times I had very bad malaria. My last Christmas there I was so sick that I could barely move. More than once that time I passed out in the hallway trying to make it to the bathroom. Nothing ruins Christmas more than laying in bed begging God to either take the malaria away or kill you - and actually meaning it!!

Christmas in Kenya was also rough because I wasn't with family. I was with people I loved and cared about, but, it wasn't the same. Still, there was one thing that I LOVED about Christmas there. It wasn't so commercialized like it is here. It wasn't all about shopping and buying/receiving tons of presents. The stores would put up some garland and tinsel. There were Christmas cards for sale and a few trinkets. There was no big hype about Santa. No black Friday or cyber Monday advertisements. Malaria and home sickness aside, it was refreshing. There was no pressure to buy the perfect gift or spend tons of money. In fact, the first year there we did a small white elephant. There were joke gifts like holographic photos and funny trinkets. The focus wasn't on the gifts. The focus was on each other.

Christmas, at it's root, is about relationship. The birth of Jesus is 100% relational. The very Son of God entering our dark world and becoming fully human. Intentionally entering our world to solidify a relationship between God and Man; to build relationships with us and to ultimately die for us. The very best Christmas gift was a presence.

So, now that Christmas is a short 11 days away, I challenge you to be present with people. Not just through December but through the year. Take some time to put down the phone and spend time with people. Ignore the Instagram opportunity and create a memory with someone instead. Show people that they matter by giving them presence, not presents.

This year, I don't care if I don't get a single present at all. I'd rather have presence with those that I love and care for. I'd rather have a time to go out for coffee and enjoy time not materials. I want lots of PRESENCE not presents this year.

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