Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, December 17

John answered, “[A man] can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.”
—John 3:27

With one week left until Christmas, everything around us centers on gifts. Have you finished your shopping? Have you ordered online? Is there still enough time for delivery? Are the packages wrapped and under the tree? How can I find the time to grab a couple more stocking-stuffers?

Gifts are so abundant among us, you'd think we'd easily get the point of John's message. We receive nothing unless it comes from God. A pretty basic idea among Christians. But just look at us. We seem more excited by our own gifts of creation than we are about God's.

We do whatever we can to buy, purchase, and barter the love we want so desperately to have. We search for the perfect gift, the exact thing we need to express love, kindness, and generosity. But in the end, most of us fail to express love because we do not see the gift from God.

Without embracing the gift of God's very self, we merely celebrate a winter holiday. We do not get in touch with who we are. We do not receive the gift of Christmas.

But we can always receive the gift of God! We can open ourselves to the reality of God's love for us, and in the process, discover how to give of our whole being. For when we experience and embrace the love of God in our hearts and souls, the gift of the Christ empowers us to be who God called into being as we reach out and bless others.

So how? How do we get in touch with the gift of God in Christmas? I wish there were one or two easy steps—something each person could do by merely answering a couple of questions or making three or four slight changes in daily patterns. But that's not how it works. If we look at the lives of the saints, it seems that emptiness, openness, and patience are what bring us closer to the gift of Christmas.

By emptying ourselves of all our clutter, openness to God comes. When we take out our spiritual trash and clean out those areas where we put ourselves down and discount God's love in us, we discover a place within where God dwells incarnate.

And there, when we are patient, God gives us new life. It's the most amazing aspect of our spiritual journey—the discovery that all God needs to work within us is our openness. All we really need to do is open our souls, empty our trash, and in patience let God live within.

What a gift. What a Christmas.

God, only you can fill my life as the gift you have given. Open me to my emptiness and fill me with your love, that the gift of the Christ can be mine this Christmas and always. Amen.