Unwrapping Christmas: Give Like God
Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. And we’re halfway through a new series for the new season called Unwrapping Christmas. It’s all about giving and that means it’s all about God.
God is a Giver; He has given us birth and life, friends and family, time and talent, opportunities and advancements. God is a generous giver.
At Christmas we celebrate that God gave us his very Son. Perhaps the most famous line in all of Scripture sums it up best: For God so loved the world he GAVE his only beloved Son. John 3.16 And the Son loved the world so much he gave his life for us on the cross, that we might have life in him.
God loves, so God gives. That’s the nature of God. And in our heart of hearts, that’s what we all want; we want to be givers.
Last week, we looked at the gift of giving people our presence. The story of the Bible isn’t about humanity’s search for God. It’s about God’s desire to be with His people; and unfortunately, His people sometimes lack the desire to do the same. Your presence matters because it shows what and who you value. It also matters because it shows your support for others.
It is tempting for us to think of generosity and giving as just a label for larger-than-life heroes like Saint Francis or Mother Teresa. But that’s not so.
Nearly every moment of every day, we have opportunities to give something to someone else.
And giving doesn’t require an extraordinary service or heroic virtue, it simply involves thinking of others more.
Over and over again, Scripture teaches us that there are rewards for giving, and this begins through giving to the lowliest or less fortunate. Because, when we give in this way, it is giving to God. It’s not LIKE giving to God, it IS giving to God. “Whatever you did for the least of these, you DID IT TO ME,” He says.
In the season of Advent we always hear from the Book of Isaiah. This Sunday, a verse that practically defines the season is when God tells the prophet to write, “Comfort, give comfort to my people says your God.” Isaiah 40:1
Isaiah is addressing the people of Israel in their defeat at the hands of their enemies, and their exile from their homeland. They were in distress and disarray. Being separated from their home, they felt far from God as well. The prophet speaks words of comfort because their situation is about to change. God has decided that he is going to change their situation, in sending the gift of His Son.
There are certainly literal opportunities to do this act of giving, all around us, all the time, and I want to share a specific opportunity with you today.
About a month ago, Bishop Wack came over to our Catholic Charities facility here in Fort Walton Beach and blessed a part of the building that is now called, “Matthew’s Nursery.” Matthew’s Nursery is a place of assistance for mothers and babies in need.
Their mission is to give families hope by providing help to new parents. Matthew’s Nursery provides newborns and babies up to one year with items to keep them clean, warm, comfortable, and safe. The need is great and continues to grow. We never want any baby to go without.
As people of God, we do everything we can to protect the life of a baby in the womb, but what happens after the baby is born? In many cases, mothers who decide to keep their child are in desperate need. They need our support, and Matthew’s Nursery is a very important way we here at Saint Mary try to help meet that need.
The name Matthew’s Nursery has a story to it of course. It’s named after Matthew Jesse Pitts who was born on January 23, 2010 to Matt and Angela Pitts of Panama City.
At 19 weeks of gestation, Matthew was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 – otherwise known as Edward syndrome – in addition to multiple heart defects and intestinal issues. At 29 weeks, Angela went into labor and gave birth to Matthew, who was stillborn.
Surrounded by family and friends, his parents were able to spend several hours with their baby before saying goodbye.
Matthew – whose name means “Gift of God” – was cherished from his very conception, throughout the difficult pregnancy, and in the final hours following his birth.
Following Matthew’s passing, Matt and Angela made a request of those who wished to remember him. They asked that donations be made in his name to Catholic Charities, now the Matthew’s Nursery we know today.
Those donations formed the cornerstone of the outreach resource that offers assistance, to any expectant mother who requests it for her unborn child. The mother is given the necessary items to keep her baby warm, comfortable, and safe.
Mothers are given layette baskets, to meet their babies’ basic needs. There is a “Baby Starter Kit”, which contains diapers, wipes, lotion, baby soap, baby shampoo, clothing, socks, bottles, and other necessities.
Families who need assistance can also request diapers and wipes for their children, if life has created a situation where they need a helping hand. Matthew’s Nursery wants to be stocked and ready to serve every family who comes in for assistance.
This weekend, we are looking at a great opportunity to be generous in a way that will have a huge impact, now and for the future. We believe that the Holy Spirit has prepared works for us to do, that will advance the kingdom of Christ.
To give comfort means to ease or alleviate distress. It’s normally not something we can do for ourselves. This weekend we have the opportunity to give the gift of comfort to moms and their children in Fort Walton Beach. We can bring comfort by meeting needs that they cannot meet on their own. When they cannot meet the needs on their own, God has given us the resources to stand with them and help. And by sharing our resources we let them know that they are not alone and on their own. We’re with them. We are for them. Not against them.
We recognize God’s call on our church to serve both within our parish, and in our city. And today we are called to help locally.
In the service of the Lord we are challenged to always do more. We accept that challenge! So after Mass today, you will have an opportunity to make a difference right here in Fort Walton Beach.
There are brochures on the tables as you leave that explains Matthew’s Nursery with a list of items for donation. They need gifts from us for those in need.
The brochure also lists other ways you can help such as knitting blankets for the babies, and many other ways. So please pick one up so that you will know how you can help, and you can put into practice being a giver.
Your heartfelt donation allows Matthew’s Nursery to fulfill their mission to help mom’s and their babies, and in doing so, give them hope. The hope and love of Christ.
So, instead of another Christmas tie or sweater, more gift cards and video games, how about a gift that can touch and change lives forever. Be a giver… like God our Father.