Christmas: A time for gifts
By The SVG Christian Council
Have you ever noticed the elaborate traditions we have developed around Christmas: the food, the decorations, the family traditions, the meal, the specific things that we only eat at Christmas; the house cleaning and the visiting of family that we only see once a year; the liturgies anticipating the great event, or the Aurora services (before dawn) that witness to the light conquering the darkness; the music that fills the air and airwaves with their message of joy; good tidings to bring and Great Joy for a child is born?
Of all the traditions that we have developed, the most elaborate is that of gift giving. We show gratitude to those close to us by the gifts we give. Our family, friends, business colleagues, and even the “little people” get gifts each year. We give because this is a time of great celebration. The joy is infectious.
Yes, a child is born, and He is the Prince of Peace. For Christians, this is the greatest gift that humanity has ever received. Our response is enshrined in the elaborate traditions that we have developed around the festival. We celebrate that God has given us His Son, Our Saviour.
In the Christian tradition, this is referred to as “the logic of the gift”. This has become a way to view the whole human endeavour. The beginning principle: that the Creator, as the giver of the gift is excessive in gratuitous love for the human. The second principle: that the giver is in the gift; as such, this is radical giving of self which models the way to “life to the full”, and thus salvation. God is the gift, and this gift models for us, the way to full life and true peace.
At Christmas time, we attempt to live this through all of our traditions. It is about giving and sharing and family and gratitude. This is not only for Christmas; it is how we are supposed to live. This way of living is opposite to the dominant culture of our day; the culture of greed that has infected from captain to cook, turning the ship into a place of rugged competition as opposed to a team. It is this culture that occupies our thoughts and concerns for the future. It is this culture that is being opposed by the young people in London and other cities of the world.
As a society, we have tolerated division; some of us have promoted it actively. We suspect others who are different from us in religious beliefs, political opinions or social standing. This national pastime is destroying our nation. We have serious challenges facing us that require all of us working together: unemployment, persistent poverty, a culture of greed and selfishness, the rampant violence we face, the drug economy upon which we depend, organized crime that is transforming St. Vincent and the Grenadines from a paradise to a most difficult place to live.
If Christmas and in fact all of our religious traditions tell us anything, it is that the human is created in harmony and for harmony. We will only have true peace when we become builders of harmony. It also says that persons can only find themselves and thus true happiness in giving themselves to another in love. In these two statements lies the whole mystery of Christmas and the Christian tradition.
This Christmas, rather than giving things, give yourself consciously in all that you give. Rather than giving the most expensive presents to the people who need them least, give to the poor who have nothing. Use your wealth to contribute to building values and virtue in your family and society. If we all did this, we will find that happiness will come to us and then we will know the true meaning of Christmas.
The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday
The Rev. Adrian Odle
The Rt. Rev’d Jason Gordon
Major Pierre Antoine