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Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Season Of Giving

"He has freely scattered His gifts to the poor, His righteousness endures forever;…” 
Psalm 112:9 (NIV)
Take a deep breath and relax now …
As we emerge from what is usually a very hectic time of the year, let us take a moment to reflect and look forward to how we can continue our lives and relationships in meaningful ways in the days ahead. The stresses of finding the right gift for someone, the joy of receiving a longed-for wish, the head-shaking blandness of getting something as redundant as a tie, or another pair of socks, or sweater that we do not need or want, the empty feeling of just picking something for the sake of picking something to give, can leave us exhausted to say the least.
Let us leave behind the craziness of crowded malls filled with last minute shoppers. Every year we swear that we are not going to go crazy ‘doing this thing’ again. And every year, to some degree, we all do. I have told my friends, my children, my co-workers, that instead of buying me stuff that I am sure I don’t need; they should instead  find someone who is in need, and give them something for me. For the most part they do not listen, and I understand. I do.
This has been, and maybe still is, a season of complex emotions. There is a genuine need to reach out and touch someone. There is a need to be touched ourselves.  We want to share the love that in many cases has gone untold, or is dormant in our chests and in our stomachs, or that has sort of become sub-conscious. Our love goes underground in our lives, waiting for a time and place to be expressed. Unfortunately that time is usually when one of us is about to have our physical remains placed beneath the ground. At funerals that is! This then, is a season when we become aware of the many significant others around us, and of the impact that our presence makes in each other’s lives.
It is also a time when some become acutely aware of their loneliness. In the midst of all our merry making, the increase in the number of suicides this time of year is a critical reminder to us of how absent we are in the world of someone who really needs us.  In the very midst of great abundance, there is a desperate poverty that afflicts many. The Good News is that in fact we, none of us, need to feel abandoned to the destiny of hopelessness that is implied in our desperate poverty. Hope for our world comes in the form of the God in us who is Love. It is this God that became incarnate in the life of Christ that we should be celebrating all year long.
“He has scattered His gifts to the poor …”
The God of infinite resources comes to us in all our circumstances of need. Our needs vary. Some of us need some things. Some of us need something more. The God who is Love calls us to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the widow and the fatherless, speak the Word of salvation to those in prison, liberate the oppressed and the oppressor… The gifts of God are tailored to our individual needs.  He gives his gifts indiscriminately to us in accordance with the circumstances of our poverty. Yes, God scatters his gifts to the poor! That means all of us!
"His righteousness endures forever"
So we make a big deal of our efforts in what has essentially become an orgy of commercialism. Then the season passes. The caroling goes away. And we return to the ‘being absent’ in each other’s lives that really is our standard. Ok, so I am being a bit hard. I am a hard guy, but you get my drift. In the end it is not the things that we purchase with money that matter most, but our continued loving/caring presence in each other’s lives. It is how we continue to… be with/walk with…, one another down the roads of life. It is the crucial matter of how we continue to do right by each other when no bells are ringing.
Let us remember that the greatest gift we can give in the Season of Giving is the gift of a Love that endures.

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