Blessed to be a Blessing
Christmas carries with it many different family traditions. Cookies. Stockings. Cutting down Christmas trees. Travel. Family meals. Gift giving. Carols. Mistletoe. Horse drawn sleighs. Train sets. House light and decorations. Egg Nog. Candy Canes. Fruit Cake. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Elf on the shelf (I never claimed all of the traditions were good ones.) Christmas movies.
Every year, throughout the Christmas season, there are 3 movies that we must watch: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “White Christmas,” and “Holiday Inn”. Somewhere over the course of the Christmas Holidays, we find a way to squeeze these in.
Every year, it seems like the same trivia pops up about some of the movies, like... Did you notice how sweaty George appears on the bridge with Clarence in that blizzard scene? It was actually 90 degrees out that day. Did you know that White Christmas was actually not written for the movie White Christmas? White Christmas was written as the ending song to the movie Holiday Inn. Irving Berlin capitalized on the song’s popularity and wrote a whole new script for White Christmas. Both movies had a lot of the same ideas: A hotel, a stage, performances, and celebrations of Holidays. They both end with the song, “White Christmas”. And Bing Crosby gets the girl.
There is a song in the midst of Holiday Inn that catches my attention every time it’s sung. It is the song "Counting Your Blessings". Here are lyrics to first verse...
When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
The song went on to be recorded by Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Eddie Fisher, Andy Williams, Jimmy Durante, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, and Sandi Patty.
Its popularity is not because it is catchy, but because the message of it is so profound. We have been blessed. We have more than we realize. We have been given more than some people in this world will ever even see.
When God spoke to Abraham in the book of Genesis and first asked him to leave his country and go to another – and this one God would give him and his descendants as a home. God gave Abraham a unique promise. Listen to these words God told Abraham…
Genesis 12:2-3 2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
God begins to lay the foundational principles of our lives in the example of Abraham in the Old Testament. God’s blessings would not just be for our own personal enjoyment. God’s blessings were to be an example for us to pass on to others. Abraham was blessed by God, he was to bless others. And eventually the promise was made to him that all the nations of the earth would be blessed though him. We understand that the fulfillment to that promise came in Jesus – a descendant of the line of Abraham. Though Jesus all the families, all the peoples of the earth are blessed.
At Christmas time, we remember the birth of Christ. We remember the fulfillment of this promise. We are blessed to be a blessing. We have been given mercy and grace by God so that we can extend mercy and grace to others. We have been forgiven by God so that we can forgive others. We have been loved by God so that we can love others. We have been provided for so that we can provide for others.
This holiday season, we will again help provide gifts for those who cannot at Christmas. This year, we will be giving gifts through Angel Tree. This ministry gives gifts to the children of those in prison so that they are remembered at Christmas time. These children are innocent. They have committed no crimes. Though one of their parents have. And we have a chance to extend grace – unearned favor -- to help keep a relationship between a child and their parent in prison alive. The gifts that we will give are not given on behalf of the church or ourselves –even though we will provide them. They are given to the children as if from their imprisoned parent.
Now we do deliver the gifts. We are part of the process, but in the heart of the child, we build hope for a day to come. We bless. We do not give to get credit. We give because we have been given to and provided for. Because we know what it is like to receive a gift from God when we were still guilty.
As a family... look for a way to pass the blessing on this Christmas. It is not just a season of giving. It is a season to make sure that people are loved and cared for. As you read the story of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, rehearse again the ways God has given to you. Remember again the love he has for us. Love gives. Blessed people are a blessing. And this plot line will be repeated every year. It might just be the greatest Christmas tradition.
Celebrating Christmas again this year…