Hope: It Means so Much More

When I was little, I thought the best gifts came in big boxes. If they were both taller and wider than me then I knew with certainty there was a great gift inside. Once I discovered shiny trinkets, I felt quite the opposite. It was tiny boxes that magnified the glimmer of something costly and precious that I most coveted.  Nowadays, I just buy my own gifts and I am not very particular about the shape or size of the box. I give them to my husband to wrap so he has an inkling of what he bought me, giving him special instructions to put any clothes in a gift bag in case I happen to need to wear them before Christmas.

I don’t pretend that any of this is romantic or that the Three Wise Men would be impressed with my self-giving. It just seems like a practical solution to the pressures of gift-giving. And, there’s so much pressure. So much of gift-giving feels transactional. Christmas lists have been replaced with links that specify everything from size to color. We ask people what they want so they won’t be disappointed or so we don’t waste money on something that would otherwise end up in the top shelf of the hall closet. Just as often, we give money as a gift because we’ve been conditioned that it’s the one-size-fits-all solution to the woes of the world.

We look to material things to convey the genuineness of our love and affection, and inevitably they feel inadequate. Perhaps that’s what the Grinch realized when he said, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…means a little bit more.”  Yet it isn’t a little green man that I think about at Christmas no matter how wonderful it is that he converted from greed and grumpiness. It’s a baby in the manger.

It’s easy to forget about gifts altogether when you ponder the poverty of Jesus’s birth amid farm animals and piles of hay. Yet even in this most austere setting, what’s so remarkable about Christ’s birth isn’t what’s lacking. Instead, it’s the abundance of hope that tiny manger holds. Even the gifts of the Wise Men don’t compare to the glory of his perpetual light. Neither does anything you buy for yourself or others.

Yet, it’s hard to give a gift like hope without looking like a cheapskate. Most of us can’t begin to understand what a gift like that looks like. Intangible as it may be, the hope of our savior is priceless and it’s not only possible to share him with others, it’s pivotal. Hope is a gift that many desperately need. The hope of a savior whose mercy, generosity, and unparalleled capacity to love unconditionally and indiscriminately changes not only this life but our eternal lives too.

Hope gives us and others a chance to do things differently; to experience our own rebirth. To choose love instead of hate. To choose time together over distraction. To choose tolerance over discrimination; service over self; and peace over violence. These choices are the great mercy of our lives. It’s the power we have to change the trajectory of this world by imitating Christ’s love and mercy. Jesus came to show us a different way. It’s the way of love and it’s the only thing that will unify us. Hope tells us this is possible. I can think of no greater gift for mankind.

I recognize the joy and generosity in gift giving but it pales in comparison to the true meaning of Christmas — to what we are really being asked to give. There will still be plenty of presents under our tree, but I know that the most important thing I have to give doesn’t come from a store. It’s hope, and it means so much more.

Hi all~ Please know my hope for each of you is to realize just how much God loves you and for all of us to mirror that love to everyone we encounter. Truly, the thought of it gives me such hope.

I also hope you get something good under the tree; maybe something you didn’t even have to wrap yourself because that’s fun too!

Also, I was on a podcast recently where I talked about what inspired me to write Simple Mercies: How the Works of Mercy Bring Peace and Fulfillment. If you have some time while you wrap presents or bake cookies, give it a listen https://open.spotify.com/episode/5RH0YG5OBSz4wwAdfB2TQ5?si=aVdZmd5tSpOKPO4myj668g

Or if you’d like to read Simple Mercies, you can get it on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Merry Christmas! ~ Love, Lara




4 thoughts on “Hope: It Means so Much More

  • December 21, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    What a nice Christmas message. Loved it. I’m always so inspired and reflective after reading your blog. Thank you.

    • December 28, 2023 at 10:23 am

      Thank you, Merry Christmas!

  • December 21, 2023 at 10:25 am

    Merry Christmas and thank you for the beautiful words of hope.

    • December 28, 2023 at 10:23 am

      Merry Christmas, Pat! I hope it was filled with PRESCENCE of all the people you love especially HIM!

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