Living The Christmas Spirit…John Page Burton

As I share with you this morning, I am sitting at my desk gazing out a large window that faces the national forest. I feel privileged to be able to watch the snow as it gently falls from the sky. I appreciate the intoxicating beauty of the trees that are now wearing a new coat of fresh powder and I’m reminded that it has been several years since I have experienced a white Christmas. I am extremely grateful for this moment.

I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the word Christmas and also share some thoughts on ways each of us can continue to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas throughout the year.

CHRISTMAS….

Compassion. All of us were born into a different set of circumstances. No one is better than anyone else. Whenever we are presented with an opportunity to lend a helping hand it is up to us to reach out. We must refrain from judging other people or their current situation. Remember…”but for the grace of God there go I.”

Humility. Remaining humble. God has blessed each of us in different ways. God graciously provides all of us with the appropriate lessons needed for our growth. In our success, be grateful and when we fail, be grateful. When we express gratitude we leave little room for a “better than” attitude.

Respect. It is up to us to treat everyone we meet with dignity and respect. We are all children of God. In an instant our lives can dramatically change for better or worse. How we treat those who are less fortunate than we are will define our true character more than anything we can ever say.

Inspiration. We should strive to be an inspiration to the people in our lives. It is just as easy to speak words of encouragement as it is to deliver cut downs or criticism. We must seek to find the good in every situation, choose our words carefully, refrain from anger and always come from a place of genuine kindness.  Our children, family, friends, co-workers, service providers and numerous others are watching our behavior and it is our responsibility to set an inspiring example.

Service. Every day we have an opportunity to be of service to someone who needs our help. We must be willing to offer our time, treasure and talent. There are numerous people and organizations in every community that need assistance and they will welcome us with open arms. Remember… givers gain!

Tolerance. We live in a extremely judgmental society where far too many people believe that their candidate, religion, race, sexual preference, education, employment or zip code is superior to that of someone else. Tolerance in today’s diverse world is critical for the advancement and enrichment of our society. We must be willing to judge people at face value rather than relying on misguided perceptions.

Miracles. Life is a miracle. Everywhere we look we see miracles. The sun consistently rises in the east, our child is born, a family member beats Cancer, we meet our soul mate or we are able to land the perfect job. We must learn to appreciate the miracles in our lives and never take anything for granted.  Christmas is a celebration of the greatest miracle of all. When we find ourselves in a challenging situation we must pray for and believe that a miracle awaits us.

Authenticity. Each of us is unique. We are called to bless the world by being authentic. Many of us invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into being someone other than ourselves. We say what we think people want to hear, buy material things to impress people who really don’t care and eventually many of us find ourselves emotionally bankrupt. We must re-connect with our authentic self and embrace our own unique journey.

Sacrifice. We live in a world that features an abundance of material options. For many, the words instant gratification, have replaced the words hard work and sacrifice. Everywhere we look it seems that people are going deeper and deeper in debt to quench their insatiable need to “look good”. Many of us have lost the appreciation and sense of self that is a bi-product of sacrifice and hard work. We must share the concept of delayed gratification with the next generation or It may be lost forever.

In closing I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a very insightful NEW YEAR!!!

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