Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. -1 Peter 4:10 (NRSV)
As I headed to Panera recently for lunch, the jammed parking lots around the Target shopping area provided a noticeable reminder of what the Christmas focus is for many... gifts! Toys, electronics, clothing, jewelry, a new pet and, if all else fails, gift cards! Of course, there will also be the gift of time with family and friends, holiday parties, and meaningful worship in churches across the land.
Gifts are a wonderful way to show others just how much we care, and most likely we all have a memory or two of a meaningful gift we received. I received one of my most memorable gifts for Christmas when I was about 10 years old. Times were tight then, but my mom has always shown love through gift giving. So, when Christmas rolled around there was no chance she wasn't going to find a way to give us something.
We went to visit Mom Christmas day and enjoyed a wonderful dinner... she's always been a good cook. We gathered to open gifts and mom always gave us plenty of sweets in our stockings. I'm sure we all received a small gift or two, but it was a shared gift that we all cherished. A plastic sled! We spent all afternoon sledding in the back yard, even building a ramp to up the danger factor. I'm sure there was no doubt in Mom's mind that we were thankful for that gift. And how did she know? Because as soon as we received it we got busy putting it to use.
The apostle Paul repeatedly refers to the various gifts those in the church have received. We often refer to them as spiritual gifts, and each and every one of God's children has received such gifts. As we journey through the Advent season, we are reminded of the greatest gift, Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are reconciled with God and liberated from sin so that we may put our gifts to use in service to one another. When we allow ourselves to receive God's gifts and then put them to use for the good of Creation, I am confident our gratitude shines for God to see!
May we journey together to the manger full of the hope, peace, joy and love that Christ offers to all.
Wishing my FPCV family peace and a very Merry Christmas!