>With the help of some dear friends, I decorated a five inch Christmas tree with a world of ornaments in my apartment. Five inches for a Christmas tree, isn’t that a bit small? I thought to myself as I stood a foot across from the freckled face, skinny framed, 21 year old heckler. We stood in a cage full of tied evergreen coniferous trees adjacent from the nofrills in downtown Hamilton. “What can I get for $10.00?” I asked the gentleman as I reached into my pocket and dug out a worn out $10.00 bill. After searching through a pill of trees, he picked a short, but bulky tree.
At first, I thought he mocked my physique in insinuating the nuances between me and the stout tree. It was just me being silly and self conscious. Nonetheless, I could not resist the bargain; for $10.00 I was taking home a heck of a tree. The negotiations were not made lightly, I had to promise my new friend that I would refer him business from some people I knew.
Christmas trees, me, ornaments, decorations; interesting mix of words that is not usually associated with me, the kind born and raised in Africa. In the experience of the culture I grew up in, Christmas was a day to celebrate with family and friends, exchange gifts and if you were religious; which by the way constituted about 90percent of the population, you spent most of Christmas day at church. Buying trees and decorating them with ornaments were visions I saw on the television screen and in movies like home alone, the Christmas story and the Christmas vacation. Perhaps I have been re-socialized or maybe decorating a tree and buying present just eases your mind into the mood of the Christmas festivities. I wonder what the Christmas or rather “Happy holiday” hoopla is all about in North America. Everything sells at Christmas from the Pizza deals to the current Series of Mercedes Benz.
This Christmas, I am reminded of a story I read in the bible, a pretty popular story about Jesus feeding the 5000 men with two loafs and five fish. The story, I thought carried with it an amazing spiritual principle of multiplication by way of giving. After all tis the season to give and be jolly.You probably know this story well enough. When Jesus received the two loafs and five fish, he blessed it and gave it to his disciples to be given to the people. As the disciples gave out the food, it kept multiplying until each one of the 5000 people were well fed and 12 extra baskets were collected up.When they were instructed by Jesus to give the food out, they could have thought Jesus was being ridiculous, the two loafs and fish was simply inadequate; they could have shared it with just their families; they could have shared it amongst themselves; or totally ignored his instructions and done nothing with it. In all those circumstances, the food would not have multiplied.
It is evident that the multiplication came when the food was given out.The loafs and the fish in the hands of Jesus is analogous to Christians in the hands of God. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” Isaiah 48:16. When Christians spend time with God, they are blessed; just like the loaf and fish is blessed. Just like the disciples could have ignored the advice to give of the food to the people; Christians can ignore the advice of giving of themselves to the people.Unfortunately, sometimes Christians sitting in a church service, getting fed with the message of the gospel and being blessed each week never multiply or increase. Often the reason is quite simple: We are not giving of ourselves; unlike the blessed fish and loafs; we have kept to our families, our communal friendships or completely ignored the instructions to give out and have seized from the opportunity to multiply.
This Christmas, we can be the gift that keeps on giving. We can be the blessed loaf and fish that does not run out, because we have waited upon the lord all year. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.
If we are running out of ideas of ways to be the gift that keeps on giving; here is what Jesus said:
For I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave me drink;
I was a stranger, and you took me in;
I was naked and you clothed me;
I was sick, and you visited me;
I was in prison, and you came to me.
’The key to multiplication is to give of ourselves; we are blessed; too blessed for just our families, too blessed for just our friends, too blessed not to do anything. Jesus is looking to feed 5000 men. Would we be the gift that keeps on giving this season?