Happy Monday, Friends! This past Sunday the church celebrated Gaudete Sunday, the day when the third candle of the Advent wreath is lit, and the liturgical colors turn briefly to pink to express the anticipation of Christmas. The traditional hymn for this particular Sunday is the 16th century carol, “Gaudete:” “Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria virgine, gaudete! Tempus adest gratiæ hoc quod optabamus, carmina lætitiæ devote reddamus. (Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary, rejoice! The time of grace has come, what we have wished for; songs of joy let us give back faithfully).”
“The time of grace has come…let us give back faithfully.” The spirit of Christmas is often masked by time spent searching for gifts, planning parties, and satisfying each season’s political or commercial strife (“Merry Christmas” on Starbucks’ cups, anyone?) In our Christian tradition, we have received a gift of incalculable worth on Christmas. Our call is not to protest corporate decisions or sacrifice our sanity to find the “it” toy. Our call is to give back the grace that we have received.
In O. Henry’s classic tale of Christmas gift giving, “The Gift of the Magi,” a husband funds the purchase of ornamental combs for his wife by selling his watch while his wife sells her hair to finance the purchase of a chain for his watch. They each sell what is most important to them to buy something meaningful for the other. While the story is meant to be about true love and selling what is most precious in order to obtain what is better, I’ve never seen the story as more than a metaphor on the pitfalls of materialism. Rather than provide a meaningful experience or moment for each other, husband and wife focus on using what little money they have to purchase something which has monetary value.
Rather than buy gifts for each other or focus on things that quickly pass, we should focus on giving back and paying forward the blessings in our lives. We need to create a cycle where people lift up the communities, they belong to by supporting those communities with their own blessings. Once you come out as the magnificent, Queer, rainbow-breathing unicorn that we all know you are, it’s your job to go find other unicorns and lift them up. You can’t become a fabulous unicorn without some help.
While you buy the presents, plan the parties, and plan things for “after the new year,” remember your communities and the people in those communities. Remember the Queer community, the Jewish community, and the broad communities of immigrants for whom the US Department of Homeland Security issued a wide-reaching safety bulletin because of the hatred targeting us. Remember that 150 fully armed thugs showed up in Columbus to shut down a group of drag queens reading to children. Remember that the “gay agenda” has become nothing more than surviving to our otherwise normal life expectancy.
How do you lift up people in your communities? How do you pay forward your blessings?
Let us pray: God, help us lift up our neighbors and improve our communities. May our Queer community and the people who love us survive physically, mentally, and spiritually during this season when our rights and bodies are targeted for violence. Amen.
Blessings on your week, my friends! Let me know if there is anything I can do.