OUR OPINION: The gifts in Christmas come with selflessness

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

Philippians 2:3-7

Christmas has become its own worst enemy in terms of holding to its intended meaning in the face of human enhancements added over the centuries, each a little less humble and a little more full of the people’s expectations molded in the context of cultural need and individual insulation of admitting personal limits.

G.K. Chesterton, the Christian apologist and writer of the 19th and early 20th centuries, wrote in his book, Orthodoxy, “How much bigger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other(s) with common curiosity and pleasure … You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always played, and you would find yourself in a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers.”

Advent approaches Christmas with all the common expectations dashed. Advent, in its sense of expectation is an invitation to what God has done for all people rather than what people do for God:

O come, O come, Immanuel,

and ransom captive Israel

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appear.

O come, O Bright and Morning Star,

and bring us comfort from afar!

Dispel the shadows of the night

and turn our darkness into light. (Refrain)

O come, O King of nations, bind

in one the hearts of all mankind.

Bid all our sad divisions cease

and be yourself our King of Peace. (Refrain)

Chesterton wrote, “… I fancy that hope is the last gift given to man, and the only gift not given to youth … God has kept the good wine until now. It is from the backs of elderly gentlemen that the wings of the butterfly should burst.”