Photo: Public Domain Pictures
Be honest, have you ever re-gifted something? Not your proudest moment, huh? That’s ok, we’ve all done it. It’s your child’s final violin lesson of the year and you forgot to pick up a thank you gift for her teacher. Desperately searching the house, you find a vanilla scented candle that your neighbor gave you last Christmas. It’s in perfect condition. You never got around to lighting it. So you throw it into a recycled gift bag from Mother’s Day with some tissue paper from your most recent purchase at Macy’s. Your daughter is good to go and hopefully her teacher will be none the wiser.
This kind of last minute gift scramble is something we feel sheepish about and would never admit to. It somehow diminishes both the giver and the receiver (not to mention the original giver!)
Believe it or not, there are times when re-gifting is not only acceptable but encouraged. We receive tremendous gifts from God, our Creator, and He wants nothing more than for us to give them away. Here are three examples:
Jesus gives us a great commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” We are meant to take the gift of God’s love and use it as an example of how we are to love and treat others. Jesus taught us how to do this in his every action. He humbly washed the feet of his disciples. He loved the sinner, the leper, and the outcast. He loved us to the point of death on a cross. How far are we willing to go to share his gift? Do we love those who challenge us? Do we love those that the world rejects? Do we love those who believe they are unlovable?
Jesus teaches us about the amazing gift of God’s forgiveness through parables like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). Surely this lost son might have received a blistering lecture from his father when he returned home. At the very least a resounding “I told you so!” Can we be inspired by this prodigal forgiveness to re-gift it upon those who hurt us? Have you been clinging to anger towards someone because of stubbornness or pride? Can you follow God’s example and forgive?
Years ago we had an 80th birthday party for my grandmother and she received many gifts. As she opened each one she exclaimed, “I don’t deserve this!” This sweet declaration of feeling is the best way of describing grace; simply put, “the unmerited favor of God towards humankind.” Abundant blessings poured over us no matter what we do or how we behave. This undeserved gift is incredibly humbling and not to be taken lightly. St. Paul tells us that we are “faithful stewards of God’s grace.” (1 Peter 4:10) I try to remember this when I’m tempted to snap at my husband or criticize my children. Is there a more grace-filled way to interact with them? Am I truly living my life as an instrument of God’s amazing grace?
This week I invite you to reflect on God’s amazing gifts and be on the lookout for opportunities to re-gift them to the world. Use the comment section to share your thoughts!
Yesterday’s liturgy marked the official end of our Christmas season. What was the best gift you received this year? I was lucky to get a Fitbit® and I’ve been having so much fun with it. Since December 26 I’ve walked the equivalent of 70 miles. Hard to believe, but a great feeling! As I watched my boys happily examining their Christmas bounty, it got me thinking about gifts from my own childhood. The one that sticks in my mind is from 1978. All year I wished and hoped for the “Pretty Changes” Barbie doll. She had a series of hair extensions, hats, and accessories allowing you to change her look from day-to-day. I was filled with joy to find her under the Christmas tree, and she was by far the best gift I got that year.
Several months later, in a minor tussle with my older sister, my doll’s head broke off. Feeling awful, my sister valiantly tried to glue it back on, but didn’t quite get it on straight. As a result, my Barbie had a thick and stubby neck, and permanently looked smugly off to the side, never meeting the gaze of her Barbie doll friends.
I lost my enthusiasm to play with “Pretty Changes” after that. She was broken…and I had no use for broken things. Continue reading
As a follow up to my last post, Broken and Beautiful, I offer you this simple and lovely parable about a flawed pot. Take some time today to think about how your flaws might be working toward a special purpose.
Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto, 2009
A Water Bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one-and-a-half pots of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes my water to leak out all the way back to your house.” The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, we would not have such beauty.”
Divine Creator, you are the Water Bearer, cleansing us with mercy and forgiveness. Your water refreshes us like newly fallen rain.
Heavenly God, your amazing love has the power to set us free and make us whole. May we always turn to You for forgiveness and healing.
God of Love, bless our “cracked-pot” days, when we cannot see past our brokenness and flaws. May each crack become a place where your grace may enter.