THE CHRISTMAS GIFT OF TOUCH

15 12 2012

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The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens made popular one of the most beloved songs of the Advent season. The lyrics go “God bless you extraordinarily well you merry gentleman, let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day; to save us all from Satan’s power lest we had gone astray- oh tidings of comfort and joy- comfort and joy- oh tidings of comfort and joy!”

This year in my annual Christmas edition of my “Speaking In The Light” column- I wish to give you the gifts of comfort and joy! What does comfort really mean? Its definition is to give strength and hope and to cheer one who has been discouraged and downtrodden. It explains that it is to ease the grief or trouble of one who has been burdened. It means to console one who has been overwhelmed.

Now some people turn to physical means to fill the bill when it comes to yearning for the necessary safety and security. “Comfort Food” is prepared traditionally at this time of the year because it provides for us a nostalgic or sentimental appeal! These dishes warm our innards and make us feel good and stir memories of simpler and easier days when dear Mom was always there taking care of us! We Americans can’t get enough of our macaroni and cheese and meatloaf and fried chicken and burgers and fries and apple pies and ice cream and cookies and jello to name a few! But choices on a menu can’t meet the massive missing chunks that cry out for love in the depth of an individual’s spirit! Babies need to be held. Children need to be encouraged. Teens need to be guided. Adults need to be significant. We all need the human touch!

Comfort is an essential ingredient if our souls are ever expected to be fully free to soar! And you can’t experience comfort in an isolated position. You can’t make the “comfort and joy” of Christmas happen to you as a solo act! There is a big difference between being stuck in a comfortable rut and truly knowing the life giving gift of being comforted and passing on that treasure to others. Jesus showed us that the greatest act of Christmas was that he didn’t just send us a card! He did more than drop a bag of blessings upon our head! The Lord left heaven and came to be with us- to live with us- to move with us and breathe with us and know what we feel and go through the pain and the passion and the panic and the pits and the possibilities that any person faces along the path of life! Jesus allowed himself to be purposely left out of the higher echelon of social circles so that he could be near to those of us who needed him most! He allowed his deity to descend upon the desperate dealings we all face because of living in this place! Jesus was willing to be lonely and left out of the crowd so that he could genuinely let you in to know personally the love of God! He taught us firsthand that comfort is not discovered via the absence of pain but in the very midst of it!

What kind of gifts are you willing to offer others to bring them tidings of comfort and joy this December? Are you attached to these presents with your own presence? Don’t you dare be spouting off that old cliché- “It’s the thought that counts” if it took you very little internal personal investment to give away your gifts this Christmas! Comfort takes a commitment where you are willing to invest the very best of who you are into who those around you really are! You can’t give love in a hurry! You can’t do depth in an instant minute! I know that many of our family members will be expecting to see traditional gifts under the tree in a few days, but quality time spent with a loved one will make a longer and lasting and more positive impression into a person’s empty well that seeks a solution that satisfies their thirsty insides. Every minute that you choose to get up close so that you can share special space in a connecting community with somebody is like money in the bank in terms of reinforcing self-esteem! It can actually keep those you love from doing and depending on what will never love them back! A recent study showed that back in 1965, parents spent an average of 30 hours a week in direct contact with their children. Today it is down to 30 measly minutes a day of quality time. Can we claim to have truly advanced if we are nothing more than strangers to those in our own families? Technology will never substitute for touch!

I close with this story. Recently a 40 year-old man was hospitalized for the treatment of advanced leukemia. While he was receiving massive doses of chemotherapy, he was placed in quarantine for fear that even the slightest germ could do him in. During this banishment, his family would come no closer than an observation window and the only ones allowed to handle him was a nurse who had been specially cleared as being in good health. Here is how this gentleman explained his experience that scarred his psyche. “This nurse changed my bedding and kept me clean and all that, but she hated to have to touch me. Whatever she was doing she did with as little physical contact as possible. I wish she would have known how desperate I was craving for the feeling of flesh on flesh. It was not a sexual thing because in my condition that was about the last thing on my mind. But I could honestly tell you that I was losing my desire to fight this cancer without touch! I needed to know that I was not only being cured- but cared about!”

Christmas needs to be more than tidings of comfort and joy! It is going to take a serious step of involvement to be willing to get closer to those that we rub shoulders with each and every day of our lives! Comfort eases pain and lessons anxiety and softens the blatant blows that this daily rat race delivers! Comfort generates hope and is healing and helpful. On that holy night all those years ago, Jesus left heaven to come to earth to be with us so he could be one of us! It is very clear from scripture that God delights in comforting his people with touch!

Who needs to be touched this Christmas? Who needs to touch another with the same powerful comfort that you have received? Are you ready for the comforting touch of Christmas? This is prime time to take advantage of the opportunities you get to love on one another! Kiss your spouse more often- and hug and hold your kids tight! Embrace and engage your friends and family warmly every time you get to meet and greet! Replace the texting with some face to face interaction and don’t be afraid to invite God fully into your life! You can’t pass and give away what you have yet to receive yourself! Touching another can save their life! Contact is crucial in comfort this Christmas! Don’t miss it! I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a hopeful and joyous new year!

Epilogue: Speaking of touching another this Christmas- would you consider praying for those in prison as you wake up this December 25th? Some members of our Lighthouse Church Prison Ministry asked some of the inmates who show up regularly to Bible Study what the toughest part of the holiday was for them and they chimed back quickly, “It is having to be separated from our loved ones!” They then asked for prayer on Christmas Day to help them make it through this difficult time. We want to invite you to honor their wishes. Could you please be compassionate and merciful and remember those others who will not have the chance to experience all the positive connections that we will know over these next days? Would you please join us to pray for them on Christmas morning? They know they have done wrong- but isn’t this the season to be given the opportunity to make things right? “God please touch these precious people and show them comfort and joy and healing and hope even in the midst of prison… Amen!”


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