It was a night before Christmas.
Clara stood in the rain. She watched as the old woman made her way to the limo, a helper hoisting an umbrella over her as she cuddled two brown shopping bags.
Lights were up in many buildings. Shoppers rang bells for Christmas sales. Adults and children jostled and shoved around her as the busy street bustle with activity.
“Move!” The honk of the horn ricked her back to the present. She skipped away from the middle of the road as the driver spewed curses at her as he zoomed off.
Clara knew what awaited her at the house. And she was not disappointed. She had hoped that Christmas would be different. That maybe mama would love her more.. or at least pay attention to her for once. Maybe take her out to buy a new dress. But in the last few days leading up to Christmas eve, mama seemed to run on a bad temper.
She unlocked the front door and flipped the switch. The lights were out.
Using the light from her phone, she made her way to the centre table. Mama left a note on the table.
Dinner in warmer. Out on night shift. Mama.
She sighed as she crumpled the brown paper and tossed into a nearby trash can.
As always, she would be alone and there would be no special times or gifts this year. Without family and friends, the house would be boring.
No love, no hope. And it was Christmas.
As Theresa stepped into the Limo, she looked through the window at the little girl that seemed to lock gazes with her. She looked so innocent, so free. She must be happy this Christmas.
If Sarah were alive, she would have been just a bit older. Well, if she had lived, she would have named her Sarah.
But she had spent her hey days living in the spotlights of Nollywood. If only she knew that she had one chance at conception. She would not have sacrificed Sarah to the Women’s clinic when she felt she was too happy to have a child.
Matthew’s pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Now, he was gone. No offspring. No love.
Christmas was bland now. If only her life could revert to the Christmas before she signed up for acting school. She would make better decisions.
Ismail pulled into the driveway, thoughts far from the present. Last Christmas was a swell time at the club. Her boss had promised to pay – this night would be fun too.
As soon as removed the key from the ignition, Farida came to mind. And the accident last year… He pictured the disappointment in his wife’s face when he walked into the hospital lobby that night, alcohol and vomitus staining his shit after the call, and couldn’t produce money for the hospital bills.
“Nothing would happen.” He consoled himself. It was Christmas anyway.
NOTE: This Christmas, around you, someone will need love, a message of hope and restoration, a gift of family or even a nice dress or food. Will you be able to offer something significant?
Think towards Christmas… and look for ways you can share of the fullness of Jesus you have received.
I planned re-posting the Boxing Day article I wrote years ago, but something happened yesterday I must mention to you.
I had always read about the nice tradition of parents wrapping gifts in stockings and under the Christmas tree so that their kids would open them on Christmas morning and behold what items on their wish list were granted.
I had read it in books – especially in the book I’m reading presently [ Sarah Palin’s Good Tidings and Great Joy]- that she used to make her own family gifting experience extra edgy by hiding the gifts and putting clues for the children starting from the stockings…
But I saw it with my own eyes this Christmas when I visited my cousins.
I woke up 2 am yesterday morning to come drink some water in the kitchen. The lights were off downstairs but the beam from the bedroom cast light across a corner of the living room, where the 5-foot tall Christmas tree stood near the wall mounted TV.
I spotted some colourful gift bags under the Christmas tree – which weren’t there the night before.
I was excited and happy for my cousins, as I had seen one of their wish lists the day before.
While I quietly took water and tip toed back into bed, I wondered the excitement and anticipation that will well up from my cousins when they pry open the gifts boxes to unveil what’s in there.
They didn’t get to open the gift boxes until after church.
But, one could almost palpate the gratitude in their eyes as they unveiled their gifts. I couldn’t get a camera there to capture the expressions on their faces, I would have posted it.
That’s not the whole story…
My aunt told me my bag as there too… and I experienced my own secret wish list granted – a new phone!
Gifting in Christmas is a culture that probably takes cue from the wise men’s gifts to Jesus. Or let me say from God who gave us Jesus Christ as a gift of Love. John 3:16
Individuals and families share gifts with people of Christmas day and other days following. But in English-speaking countries, the day following Christmas Day is called ‘Boxing Day’. This word comes from the custom which started in the Middle Ages around 800 years ago: churches would open their ‘alms boxe’ (boxes in which people had placed gifts of money) and distribute the contents to poor people in the neighbourhood on the day after Christmas. The tradition continues tody, though receding in popularity.
Do you know that more than the physical wish lists we write, there is a wish list in the heart of every man – that unspoken expectation of healing, that request for freedom for sin, the deep thirst for fulfilment, the yearning and longing for meaning to life and the search for true peace.
When the world pried open the gift of Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Bible recorded there was joy, peace and goodwill to men. These can be a personal experience of any man who will invite Christ into his or her life.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
John 3:16 [the message]
Stop to consider: have you received the gift?
Boxing Day reminds us of the importance of giving. It tells us to box good things and give.
Let me box you a gift: that’s what it means.
Romans 8:32 – He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
The first giver was God. He still is. He gave Christ and all other things we need every day – freely and abundantly. He gives us our breath, the beautiful sun, flowers; the intelligence man boasts of, beauty we go crazy about, the opportunity to know Him personally and the Spirit that empowers us to do exploit. He gives us talents too!
While the devil gives us small costly things, Jesus freely gives big things.
This should remind us to share the greatest gift, Christ Jesus, with others as we have received, through our words, deeds and life.
Matthew 10:8- Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
But you know, God freely gives us so we can freely give too. His grace is not to be hoarded but to be distributed to profit everybody – to draw people to the Kingdom and to strengthen those in it already. Doing less is falling short of His expectations.
Mat 5:14-16 – Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Everywhere we go, we should remember that we can give too. The world is dark. Evil prevails and permeates everywhere. But Christ came to give light. He has released it to those who believe and he expects us to give light to others. We are lights of the world – we should give our lights to illuminate dark places.
1 Corinthians 2:12 – Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
So now, many people do not know they have been given all they need to live a godly and abundant life. They suffer in the midst of plenty. Once you connect to Christ by believing on Him and accepting Him, eternal life and a lifetime of blessing was credited to your account. It is your duty to get to the depth of knowledge and mine the riches.
Then give freely!
If you have received Christ, why not share with someone today? A word, a prayer, a meal, a smile or deed borne with the spirit of Christ can touch someone’s heart forever.
God’s blessings as you give,
P.S.: As I unwrapped the phone from its package, I remembered telling a friend I needed a phone few months ago. She asked me to be specific before God. There, I asked for a phone. And I got it.
I challenge you, what is in your wish list?
God’s word says “Ask and it shall be given you…”
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 1 John 5:14
This is my journal entry from November 8 2013. I felt it will bless you today.
“You sat few feet away from the offering box and watched the rich guys gave large sums and a poor widow gave two coins. But when you commented, you praised the poor widow not because of what she gave, but the principle behind giving.
Now, I am like the rich guy. I only give you a bit of my strength, a bit of my resources, a fraction of my time, but what you want is all of my strength, all of my resources, all of my time!
Not to throw in a pocket of prayer here and there during the day, but to maintain a consciousness of the presence of the Holy Spirit always with me and to live in steady conversation with Him.
Not to supply some effort on God’s work but to give it all it takes until it is achieved; not to donate stipends to the course of the kingdom but to give all.
We received all, so we give all and it is when we give all that we continue to receive all.”