When my son was young, he had one of those (noisy!) rock-polishing machines.
One year, we were having a yard sale and he decided to sell some of his shiny stones. The price he wanted for the individual polished rocks was a bit high, so I tried to dissuade him.
His blunt response: “I made them, so I should be allowed to say how much they’re worth.”
I will never forget those words.
And for me, it's one of the most life-changing elements in the message of Christmas.
This will come as no surprise to those who know me—particularly those who were part of my Pastoral ministry in the past—but my favorite Christmas hymn is O, Holy Night.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining .
'Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
Read that again, and pay attention to those final words.
It’s so very powerful.
The soul felt its worth!
Note: For my non-religious friends and those who observe a faith other than mine, this entry is about elements of my personal experience and beliefs in the context of Christmas holiday. I invite and appreciate your Yuletide latitute.
Growing up with a verbally abusive father who regularly found ways to put me down and make me feel worthless, I've always struggled with self-esteem. I could never measure up.
I think it’s true of many of us, and other factors can contribute to our sense of inadequacy: circumstances, economics, gender, weight, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. might convince us that we're inconsequential. We see ourselves as...less than. Sadly, people around us can be quick to give their caustic opinion of us, reinforcing our insecurities. For LGBTQ people, society as a whole often views us in a negative light—as second-class citizens (at best) or an evil "abomination" (at worst). Too often, we assume...or are repeatedly told...that God has the same opinion of us.
The tragic part: we mindlessly embrace and adopt these assessments, and it's how we see ourselves as well.
But Christmas proclaims a different story!
On the night of His birth, the angels delivered the announcement: “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone!” (Luke 2:10 TLB Emphasis mine)
It was at this season, many years ago, I first embraced a faith in Christ. Terminology to describe the experience that night...and since that night...is inadequate (“born again?” “saved?” whatever!), and never enough to express the depth of what happened to me.
My life was changed.
I was changed!
That's why this song holds a special place in my heart.
O Holy Night...indeed, the essential message of Christmas...reminds us of our intrinsic value.
Not because of extraneous factors such as how we look, what we do, or who we love.
Our significance has been determined…once and for all…by the One who made us.
That's Good News of Great Joy!
God so loved the world...God gave.
Not empty words of love, but a tangible Expression of Love.
The Creator...Our Creator...came to us...became one of us...because we are worth it.
God personally embodied this ultimate Gift in Bethlehem’s manger.
Putting a price on an item is easy.
Determining how much something costs is simple.
But assessing worth or value?
That's a different matter.
At this special holiday season, if I could give one gift, it would be that we find value in Christmas—that we hear this important message in that old, familiar story.
Our lives are not castaway items at a yard sale.
Others don't get to assign some minimal price to our worth or discard us as useless.
No one gets to tell us we are without value or that we don’t matter.
My prayer is for us to know not only that God once gave the world a priceless Christmas Gift of Love, but that each of us is also God's priceless and loved gift in this world!
We are valuable!