Christmas Message, December 24, 2021, "A Gift Meant to be Shared"

Christmas Message, December 24, 2021, "A Gift Meant to be Shared"

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
December 29, 2021

 

“A Gift Meant to Be Shared”

A Christmas Message

            Have you ever received a gift that was SO GOOD that you did not want to share it?

            A few years ago, my wife bought me a pound of genuine Hawaiian Kona coffee for Christmas. She got the good stuff … $30.00 per pound. I brought the coffee to a Christmas gathering and carefully brewed a pot, but then was horrified when I saw people guzzling it like it was some cheap, dime store coffee. So, I did the most caring, generous and pastoral thing … I packed up the rest of the coffee and put it out in my car!

            Now that I have confessed my sin … we can get on with our Christmas Message. Some gifts are meant to be shared.

            For several years now, my wife and I have been volunteering with an animal rescue based in Memphis, Tennessee. Over those years, we have fostered almost one hundred dogs until they were adopted. We have fostered all sorts of dogs … young dogs and more mature dogs, giant dogs and tiny dogs, active dogs and wonderfully lazy dogs.

We have also fostered a number of dogs that came to us from difficult circumstances. We fostered Helen, a blind and deaf dog found in a dumpster. We fostered Sam, another blind dog. We fostered a number of fearful dogs … dogs that had been abused or neglected. One of the special dogs that we fostered was a dog named Noah.

Noah was a young chocolate lab mix that showed up on the back porch of one of the fosters in Tennessee. He was in rough shape. He was emaciated, covered with mange, and he had scars all over his face, head and back because someone had set him on fire.

The amazing Mariah, the foster in Tennessee, nurtured him for weeks helping him to heal from his physical wounds. Then he came to us for the next part of his healing journey. He needed to heal his spirit.

Noah was so fearful that I had to carry him into the house. He would not move freely from room to room. He stayed in the laundry room for hours. I laid down on the floor so that he would know that I was not a threat. I had to carry him outside and then back in.

After a few days, he began to feel more comfortable. And then came that wonderful moment when he actually played for the first time. He was chasing a little plastic ball around the backyard. To this day, I do not know where that ball came from, but I am so glad that he found it.

We fall in love with all of our fosters, but we fell especially hard for Noah. We considered keeping him … but eventually realized that he should go to a special family.

He was adopted by a family as a companion for their older dog, and for their son with autism. After being with us for several weeks, Noah transformed into a loving, playful young dog. On adoption day, we were so happy to see him playing with his older doggie brother in the yard.

Not only do we fall in love with our fosters, but we always cry when we leave them. We ugly cried when we dropped Noah off. I actually had to pull over on the highway because I could hardly see the road through my tears. We even considered going back and getting him! But we did not.

A couple of days later, we got an update from the family. Something amazing had happened. The family also fostered. They fostered children through the Department of Children and Families, and often fostered children that came from difficult circumstances. A couple of days after they adopted Noah, they brought in a new foster child.

She was a terrified little girl. Noah could sense her pain and her fear. Noah went to her and comforted her. And what we later learned was that Noah would continue to do that for the children that came into their home. He gave those children the most amazing gift.

If Renee and I kept every dog that we fell in love with, we would keep them all. As it was, we did keep a couple. That is how we ended up with four dogs at one point. And, we had not let Noah go, he would not have been there for those children.

Some gifts are meant to be shared.

I imagine that Mary and Joseph developed some very strong parental feelings toward their child. They knew that he was a special child. An ANGEL told them so … born of the Most High … Son of God … King of Judah. Pretty impressive stuff.

They also knew that he was in danger. They fled to Egypt to avoid King Herod’s paranoid rage. They would have known that his life would always be in jeopardy. What if they had decided to wrap him in bubble-wrap and hide him from the world? What if they had tried to withhold him from his destiny?

He was a blessing for Joseph and Mary, but he was more than that.
He was more than a blessing for the town of Nazareth, or the people of Judah.
The angels announced Good News for ALL people!
Jesus is a gift to be shared.
Love is a gift to be shared.

It is true that love is not always a gift that we want to share or feel comfortable sharing. Sharing the gift of love may feel awkward at times. We may not always know HOW to share that particular gift.

And it is also true that sometimes sharing the gift of love is difficult. There are times when that gift will break our hearts to pieces.

There may be times when we judge the potential recipient of our love. We may determine that they are not worthy of our love; they do not deserve our love.

But that is not how love works. It is not a gift to be hoarded. It is not a gift to be distributed once the recipients pass a certain litmus test of our creation.

The Christmas Child is a gift for all people.
Love Incarnate is a gift for every season.
Love is a gift that is meant to be shared.

We have received the gift of Love; Love from God’s own heart. Let us celebrate the gift of Christmas this day and every day. And let us share the gift of Love with all people. Amen.



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