Saturday, December 24, 2005

Giving the gift

Giving gifts is a most enjoyable part of Christmas
(and receiving them too).
But all of us knows that great sense of satisfaction
when something we have given
is really appreciated.
The emotion is tangible
and the warmth is real.
So enjoy your gifts.
We give gifts at Christmas,
not because we are giving Jesus a birthday present
....if we were doing that then we would give the presents to Jesus, but we don't do that
Maybe we should!

But the gift giving is actually to celebrate
that our God is a God who gives.
St John tells us in the most famous of biblical quotations
"God loved the world so much that he gave"
and what he gave to the world was
"his only that all who believe in him
should not perish but have everlasting life."
(John 3:16)
So we give to remind ourselves
that to be like God
we are to be giving.

Two dimensions
Let's remind ourselves of a couple of dimensions of giving
that unfold for us in the Christmas story.
1. The most important giving is the giving of one's self to another person
Whether it be as a mother or a father to their children
or as a husband and wife to each other
or as friends in friendship
it is not the size or value of the material presents that is important
it is the degree to which we give ourselves, our time, our love.
(No one will lie on their deathbed and say ...":You gave me the biggest Christmas present ever"
But we may just say...when I was really in trouble you stood by me
when I had no friends you were still there for me)
Giving goes on throughout the whole of Jesus's life
it culminates not in his birth
but in his death.

The ultimate gift of God
is that Jesus gives himself up for us
and dies
in order that we might live.
Do we have that same sort of commitment?

2. Giving of ourselves will make us vulnerable

Relationships are risky!
We cannot escape from the fact
that if we are to truly give ourselves
then that will make us vulnerable.
In the relationships that matter:
with our families
our lovers
our friends...
if we are to give ourselves then we will be at risk.
Those who we love the most
are also most capable of hurting us
and we are most capable of hurting
...parents damage children and children their parents,
wives and husbands run great risk
true friendship is dangerous
Relationships are risky business.
But is it worth it.
The question is not
How dangerous is it?
But is it worth it?
The cost is great, but so are the rewards.
God loved the world
that he gave
so that everyone would have fulness of life
Indeed if we are to live a meaningful life we have to take this risk.
There is nothing worse than being cosseted and protected
We may be "safe" but we are probably lifeless...maybe even dead.
The risk of not making ourself vulnerable is far worse
and more certain
than the risk of giving ourselves.

At Christmas
The giving, whilst enjoyable, is pretty trivial
In life the giving of ourselves
is vital
it is entire
it is necessary.
It is risky....certainly
It is demanding...that's for sure
But it is the only way to go.

No comments: