Photo credit: The convergence of Saturn and Jupiter over Jerusalem taken at 10:28 by Sid Sturgill Renfro
Today we have two reflections on the word Gift.
My birthday is three days before Christmas. When I was born, my mother was determined to be home from the hospital and did arrive home on Christmas day. My guess is she felt she was bearing the best gift the family had encountered - a precious baby child and new sibling. My sister was ambivalent, famously commenting, “That’s nice, but do we have to keep it?” Of course, we laugh about this now.
To be honest, Christmas is not my favorite holiday. Every year, I am overwhelmed by the secular commercialism of the holiday. I get stressed about getting gifts for my children, for family and friends. I think about Jesus and imagine how he might react to what has become of the celebration of his birth. Would he run into the malls and overturn the kiosks as he did with the money lenders at the Temple? Or would he quietly sit down with his head in his hands, shaking it silently to and fro as I imagine he did when his Apostles misunderstood his teachings?
This year, as I ruminate on Gifts I am trying to bear in mind that Jesus was the gift. Not in the Easter sense, but in the everyday sense in which we can relate. He lived among the people, had deep empathy and understanding, championed love, and led through service. He lived in God’s grace and was merciful. He imparted these gifts knowing we all have the capacity to live as he lived in the world. So, this Christmas and everyday I will endeavor to remember to embody the gifts of Jesus Christ and to let my actions and presence be my gift to others as God intended.
- Liza Dee
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
"Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just. right
We'll be in the valley of love and delight. Joseph Brockett
Remember the words the Lord Jesus himself said" It is more blessed to give than receive"
Peter: "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's
One of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit that grabbed me was Understanding, of all things. Perhaps because we face deep divides in our beloved country on top of what the pandemic hath wrought. And our venues of community in a meaningful way are greatly diminished. Given the chance, listening, opening up, commiserating, even laughing at our predicaments can be a gift. And it is there for us every day. God is good.
A few of the many definitions of gift are: a present or something given fully; to give something without the hope of getting in return, to endow with a talent which can be shared. As to the last, it is notable that You Tube, Broadway, Zoom, individuals and groups have brought theatre, films, art, comedy, science, lectures, documentaries and more to engage our hearts and minds (and the ability to turn it off!) And certainly great thanks to those who without fanfare gift silently and generously, do pro bono work tirelessly, make sure neighbors are checked on, helped and so much more.
In this unprecedented year it seems young people have had a hard time on many fronts -- some missing school, friends, sports, perhaps in too tight quarters. All going through a rite of passage no one could have predicted. Two reminders of how wonderful and resilient they were and are. As well as our future. And on a beautiful sunny day last year anyone who was there will never forget The Christmas Pageant. The indelible images, performances, Angels, Magi bearing amazing gifts (pronounced perfectly). A baby of course, Mary and Joseph stately young parents, singing and love. Wait til next year. And just recently the figure that served as the Baby Jesus at the First Baptist Church in Manchester VANISHED on December 14th. Miraculously, two days later he was back due to the detective work of second graders at Manchester Elementary School who found him in an icy pond and was returned to the church. A gift for all. Beware, Scrooge!
In many venues, three of the top words to gift and use in the coming year are LOVE, COMPASSION and HOPE. Spread the news. And always remember, YOU are the gift
to so many who love you. And there will be presents under the tree.
- Dalen Cole