Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Gift that Keeps Giving

In just a few days we’ll tear into some cool presents. We’ll rejoice in dvd’s we didn’t even know we wanted, and perfumes that we’re not sure we like. We’ll get sweaters and watches and candles and bottles of wine, and maybe a gift certificate to IKEA or REI or the OLIVE GARDEN so that we can customize our gift, acquiring exactly what we we think will make our life fuller and richer.

But here’s the reality. Within days, food gifts will be gone. Within months, perfumes will be consumed. Within a year, maybe two, the clothes will either be out of style or forgotten. Toys will break. Even the things we buy with our gift certificates have a good chance of ending up in a garage sale.

Of course, the reality isn’t as bleak as all that. Every year, it seems, there’s something that sticks. A book that becomes a favorite; a game that we keep playing; something for the kitchen. I even have a sweater that’s from about 10 Christmases ago. But most gifts? They float away like water in a winter storm.

If we take the bigger picture, however, we realize that the greatest gift of all keeps on giving, and will keep on giving for all eternity. When Christ came, he gave gifts of healing, hope, forgiveness, even life out from death. And now that He’s lived, died, rose, and ascended – He’s in a position to give even more. He told his followers that after He left the earth they’d continue to give, and that, by virtue of their presence in every corner of the globe, they’d be able to give more gifts, and greater gifts than the original Giver was capable of while walking on earth.

That’s what I love about Christmas. Jesus is still giving. He’s curing and caring for lepers in India. He’s freeing women from sexual slavery in Africa. He’s giving dignity to a man dying of AIDS in Seattle. He’s offering shelter to the homeless. He’s laughing with a prisoner as he sits with her over lunch and hears her story, shares her tears. He’s running a hospital in Nepal, caring for the frostbitten limbs of Tibetan Buddhist refugees. He’s working to reconcile warring tribes in Uganda, and Palestines and Jews in Jerusalem. Yes, Jesus is still giving in a million quiet ways. He is the ONE gift that will never die.

What are you doing in His name? Who are you serving and blessing? Because that, after all, is the whole point isn’t it?

Blessed Advent


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