President Abraham Lincoln is given credit for telling the charming story of a little girl who received some wooden alphabet blocks for Christmas. She liked them so much that she took them to bed with her on Christmas night and played with them until she was very sleepy. Then she remembered she hadn't said her evening prayers.
Barely awake, she knelt beside her bed and prayed, “Oh, Lord, I'm much too sleepy to pray, but here are the letters. Could you please spell it out for yourself?”
Underneath the appeal of this story lies a great truth. On that first Christmas night, this is just what God did by giving us Jesus.
In a way everyone could understand, God's great love was spelled out for us, punctuated by angels and shepherds and wise men alike proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and, on earth, peace among those whom God favors! (Luke 2:14)”
It was news that changed humankind.
Just like the little girl, you have been blessed with the building blocks of a wonderful life. But especially during this time of year, you may spell out the wrong words by foolish actions.
For example, in the rush and excitement of the Christmas season, does your life spell the word “busy”?
Hurried and harried, your opportunity to remember what God did for you on that holy night will diminish. If you allow no time or spaces for silence or reflection on the significance of that great gift given to you, life may resemble the chaos that swirls around you at this time of the year.
Another term you may spell out through misplaced priorities this season is the word “things.”
Engulfed in all the trappings of the season, in your haste to give “things,” do not forget that Christmas is about God making Love known in the form of a child, not about something you trade or buy for yourself or someone else.
This season, I suggest that you unwrap your heart to spell out “joy” and “thanksgiving” through the building blocks of your life, because God gave the Son to be your Savior. Let the words of the angels' song be the prayer written in the daily diary of your actions — “Peace on earth, goodwill toward all!”
Robert Hayes Jr. is bishop of the Oklahoma Conference United Methodist Church and the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference