To Be Swaddled

There are a couple of different ways to open gifts. One is to hand out the presents one gift at a time and watch each “receiver” unwrap the gift. The other is to hand out all the gifts as fast as you can and let chaos do the rest. That’s how we always did it at my grandmother’s house. With paper flying, “thank you’s” streaming, gasps and laughs bubbling up, we opened our gifts.

On one Christmas morning, amidst all the bows and ribbons, my six-year-old cousin opened a pair of jeans. Caught up in the passion of the moment he took the jeans in both hands and drop-kicked them into the air. The room froze. “I don’t want CLOTHES for Christmas!”, he yelled. We watched as the jeans thumped onto the floor. My uncle, the king of deadpan humor, broke the silence, “Well, that’s the Christmas spirit.”

We should forgive my young cousin for not knowing that receiving clothes for Christmas is as long a tradition as Christmas itself. In fact, did you know that clothes were Jesus’ very first gift? We remember how all sorts of visitors came bringing him gifts – but we often forget that, on the day of his birth, Jesus received clothes. Luke 2:7 says, Mary “swaddled him in baby clothes and laid him in a manger.”

He might not have had much when he came into this world, but Jesus did have the comfort of bands of cloth and the warm hands of his mother to wrap him. As we think of him bundled in the feeding trough, it is not difficult to decipher his first lesson. That is, “Let every child be swaddled!”

A month or so ago, we took up a last-minute offering for our Sibanye (“We Are One”) partnership. The money that was donated is going to provide school supplies for the thirty orphan children (orphaned, primarily, by HIV/ AIDS) at the Seki Women’s Foundation. Unathi wrote me yesterday and told me that the $1000 we donated will be more than enough for the school supplies. She was wondering if she could use the rest to buy the children a Christmas present. Fittingly, a new set of clothes on Christmas morning is a Christmas tradition in South Africa. If no one else will, if no one else can, one way or another, we will swaddle those children.

In December we will, once again, participate in “Adopt-a-Family” which helps to provide Christmas presents for children in our local community. Each year, our Reach committee decorates a Christmas tree in the Narthex. Each ornament has a child’s age and gender on it and we are invited to “adopt” that anonymous child by taking the ornament and purchasing gifts. On December 7, from 9 am -1 pm, Meg Aument will lead volunteers in putting these boxes of gifts together. It is amazing to see how many ornaments are taken, how many boxes are filled, how many volunteers show up – every year. If no one else will, if no one else can, one way or another, we will swaddle those children.

This is the “Christmas Spirit”! It is not the commercial “buzz” we get from buying the right present, you know, the one that won’t get dropkicked on Christmas morning. No, it is the wondrous feeling of knowing that children from all over the world will be swaddled this year, in part, because of our efforts. Some will be swaddled, perhaps, for the first time in their short lives. Some will be swaddled, perhaps, for the last time in their short lives. All will be swaddled by the love of Christ, the one whose swaddling changed our lives, that we might help him change the world.

D.A.T. Do Awesome Things.