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Chaplaincy

Monday, First Week of Advent

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
Matthew 25:35-36

The Christmas Gift of Dignity

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” The snow has started to fall, the Salvation Army bell ringers have taken their posts, outdoor lights are twinkling, and radios are playing Christmas songs just like this one.

This is the Christmas Johnny Mathis is describing, and the one we know all too well, but the original Christmas is a horse of a different color. It takes place in a stable; it’s noisy and crowded and smelly – a far cry from our cozy living rooms and peppermint scented candles. So if Christmas cannot be described by the physical space, how can we describe what it looks like? Christmas is the emergence of God
incarnate.

In 2011 God incarnate is not quite as concrete a figure as the baby Jesus, but that does not make Him any less present. Matthew 25:35-6 (see scripture above) points us toward an image of God incarnate in a broken world. God incarnate is not only in the downtrodden, the hungry, and the scarred; he is in the healing and the renewal. While none of us can ever match the wonder of Jesus, whenever we act according to his will we bring God back into our hearts and into the world. This is what Christmas truly looks like; the weekly soup kitchen lunch, the airlifts with food dropped into refugee camps, the foster parents, the local thrift shop, the nurse that goes the extra mile, the prison chaplain...the list goes on and on.

To me, Christmas looks like the dignity challenge my small group Bible study has agreed to take on, and I encourage you to consider it as well. Dignity is not something you can establish yourself; it is something that must be given to you by others. The distribution of dignity is what Jesus calls for in Matthew 25 – think about it, and more importantly: try it. Dignity can come in the form of a smile,
addressing someone by name, or participating in a Toys for Tots drive – the possibilities are infinite, and so are the opportunities. It is only when we begin to seize these opportunities that we can sing those lyrics “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and mean it.

Carrie Cabush ‘15