This reflection is taken from the December 2006 edition of Joyful Tidings.
As we prepare to celebrate the gift of God’s Son to the world in this Christmas season, my thoughts turn to birthday celebrations. Christmas is the celebration of the greatest gift that we have ever received, but it also marks a very special birthday—the birth of our Savior, when God’s Son assumed human flesh and entered the world in the most humble of circumstances. Rather than in a royal palace with comfortable and luxurious surroundings, God purposed that His Son would be born in a stable, with a feeding trough for animals as His crib. The birth announcement wasn’t proclaimed to the rulers or the wealthy upper classes, but the angels’ song came to some lowly shepherds tending their flocks on the Judean hillsides near Bethlehem. How characteristic of God that the poor should be the first to learn of the Messiah’s birth.
The celebration of Jesus’ birth was also in many ways a subdued affair. The shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to the stable where they found Mary and Joseph and the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes as the angels had said. They shared with Jesus’ parents about the angels’ appearance and the words that they had heard. Then they returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for what they had heard and seen. They brought no gifts to the newborn child and His family, other than their own presence. Perhaps that suggests to us that the greatest gift we can offer to the Lord in this Christmas season is the gift of ourselves to Him. As senior adults, many find themselves with much more time on their hands than at any previous stage of life. That time can be well spent in serving the Lord and in demonstrating God’s love to those around us in many practical ways.
I hope in the coming year to help our senior adults focus even more on service and ministry projects in addition to our wonderful times of fellowship and inspiration. Frederick Buechner writes the following about our vocations, but I believe his words apply to ministry in retirement as well. “The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs you to have done ... The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” May the joy of the Lord be yours in this Christmas season as you serve Him wholeheartedly.