The most important Gift!
There is a Mexican folk tale that we read every Christmas at our house. It is the story of a little girl named Juanita and the special gift she brought to the baby Jesus on la Noche Buena. The story begins with Juanita walking through the village market on Christmas Eve eyeing the pinatas, the traditional galletas cookies, and red berries, all perfect gifts to place on the altar in honor of the baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Sadly, Juanita’s pockets pulled empty of pesos. Juanita’s father had lost his job and the family had fallen on hard times. While all of Juanita’s friends gathered in the streets singing the traditional Christmas posadas, Juanita did not take part. She was ashamed that she had nothing of value to give to the baby Jesus this year.
On Christmas Eve, Juanita’s mother served a humble meal of tortillas with beans and rice. Juanita’s father brought out his guitar and led the family in songs. As the family gathered to walk to the midnight service at the Church, Juanita burst into tears and said she could not go inside this year because she had nothing for Jesus. Juanita’s mom tried to console her, “Nita, there are no greater gifts than the ones you bring with your heart.” But Juanita stopped at the doorway of the church ashamed that she had nothing to place on the Christmas altar. Suddenly, Juanita heard a voice. When she looked around, all she could see was a stone angel nestled in the weeds. The Angel spoke, “Pick these weeds and take them into the church for the baby Jesus.” Juanita was confused. The Angel spoke again, “Don’t worry, what appears only weeds to you, will become a special gift from your heart to God.”
Juanita pulled the straggly leaves from around the statue and processed into the candlelit chapel, head bowed, until she reached the altar. Suddenly, someone from the crowd cheered, “Que Hermosa! How beautiful!”
The weeds in Juanita’s arms had miraculously transformed into these exquisite star-shaped scarlet flowers. Mexicans know them as “flor de la Nocha Buena.” In America, we call them Christmas poinsettias. At the altar, Juanita whispered, “Feliz Navidad, nino chiquito, Jesusito, Merry Christmas baby Jesus!”
What gift are your bringing to God this Christmas? Like the child, do you feel like you have nothing worthy to offer to God in way of gifts this year? Have you lost more than you have gained over this last year, suffered disappointments in your relationships, in your finances, in your body, and especially in your faith? Or maybe you have been so tangled up in yourself, that you have simply forgotten a gift for God?
Take heart, God is happy with “weeds.” It is with weeds that God works miracles. The only thing God hopes for this Christmas is your vulnerable heart.
This year, I will make my way to the Christmas altar, bearing “weeds,” and hope that God will see past the imperfections to my heart. A heart that is desperate to be transformed into something beautiful, holy, and worthy of my Maker.
God knows what you are capable of offering to the altar. The question is… are you generous, humble, and courageous enough to gift God with your heart?
Live in Hope,