At least, it is for me. Last week, the first of many Christmas catalogues arrived in my mailbox, offering items sure to charm and delight everyone on my gift list. Fashions designed to draw compliments of friend and stranger alike, household geegaws guaranteed to enhance one’s experience of living, jewelry crafted to catch the envious eyes of all passersby, gadgets constructed to make the transit through life easier and more pleasurable. A wealth of accessories necessary for the unhindered enjoyment of my pet, treasured movie collections in handsome collector’s cases containing (as a special bonus) every deleted scene that the directors felt diminished the quality of the film but that I shouldn’t have to live without, holiday towers of delicacies and delights promising olde fashioned taste delights from Christmases long past and certain weight gain ahead.
I’m a sucker. I flip through the pages of all but the most outrageous holiday offerings (no point in even opening the Cartier or Mercedes or Rolex brochures), and I think, “Oh – my wife would really like that!” or “That’s perfect for one of the girls!” Truth be told, none of the Objects of Ultimate Desire offered would enhance my loved ones’ enjoyment of the holidays in any real way – I just love the thought of giving to them.
The danger comes when I finally find something that I REALLY want to put a ribbon around and give to someone I love. It’s rarely an item of exorbitant expense: most of our gift giving is actually directed toward charities we love and the tissued fripperies we swap at Christmas tend to be humble little things that have been requested or that meet a glaring need. The problem is that when I do find something, I tend to rush home (four or five weeks before Christmas) and burst through the door with the excited announcement – “I got you something! Here! Open it!” There’s usually some cajoling and begging involved, following which I promise that no, it really isn’t a Christmas gift, and there will in fact be something left to open Christmas morning. I know there will be because once today’s gift is opened, I’ll rush out to get another. Okay, I understand it’s only October and that the holiday season is still weeks ahead, but I’ve never let the calendar define my pleasure in giving to those I love.
There’s just something about giving. Something that is profoundly better than getting. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it is what I like best about humans – their willingness to give. The stories that capture my attention and gladden my heart are the ones where someone gives selflessly, and I find myself flipping past page after page of self-aggrandizement by pols and spotlight seekers to get to the stories about the individuals who contribute toward a neighbor’s loss or the bone marrow donor who meets the child whose life they’ve saved. This is who we are at our best – the ones with the selfless heart and the open hand who are on the lookout not for what they can acquire, but for how they can give.
It is, I think, one of the ways that we reflect the nature of our maker. The best known and best loved Bible verse in history begins, “God so loved the world that God gave…” There are, admittedly, times when we spend because we are required to do so: taxes and fines and fees and interest and penalties and such. But we give only because we love.
Opportunities abound for giving, and we may at times feel overwhelmed by the obligation we feel to provide for everyone who needs or everyone who asks. But in our giving, let us remember that ultimately, we give to live more fully into our best humanity, that giving feeds the loving heart and that the value of our gift is vested not in its size, but in the love with which it is offered.
THIS SUNDAY we will ask members of the congregation to share the names of those whom they love who have passed to greater life so that they may be included in our Litany for the Deceased on All Saints Sunday, November 4. If you are unable to be in church on Sunday to share those names with us, please feel feee to send them to the Church Office by firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that there will be no mid week service of Holy Communion and Healing this Wednesday, October 31. I will be at home keeping my eye peeled for hobgoblins and bribing them with treats.
St. Luke’s delegates to Diocesan Convention Jim Hart and Sid Welch will be joining Deacon Laurel and Doug Scott at the Seaside Convention Center November 1-3 as the Diocese of Oregon gathers for the annual Convention.
Saint Luke’s Youth Fellowship gathers for pizza and pieface this Sunday, October 28 in the Birch room. I’m not entirely sure what constitutes a “pieface” experience, but it’s certainly worth showing up to find out!
Beginning Wednesday, November 7, we will gather for the first in a series of evenings designed to prepare folks for Confirmation or Reception at Bishop Hanley’s Visitation on December 9. We will meet in the Birch Room immediately following our 6:30 pm service of Holy Communion and Healing.