Last weekend I was sitting beside a friend getting ready for worship, and we got to chatting about his cross. He told me it’s backstory—it’s made of moose antler, and had been carved by a young man in the next community. It was then hung on a hand-beaded chain.
I was impressed. Folks who know me know I’m partial to moose; I’m also a fan of hand-made items. So I asked if this gentleman made many such crosses (he does) and if he sold them (he does). When I asked my friend if he could connect me with this young man so I might purchase one, he astounded me.
He removed the cross from his neck, and put it around mine.
Ever eloquent, I stuttered some breathless “But… I… but…” noises, as my eyes filled with tears.
It’s gorgeous. It’s a beautiful gift. And the real gift is not just in the cross that now hangs around my neck—it was in the gift of giving.
My friend commented that he knew I would appreciate it, and so he wanted me to have it. He also said he knew what I was feeling, as he had received gifts like this before. And he said he expected I would likewise pass along the gift of giving to others—freely, openly, frequently.
To say I was (am!) touched would be an understatement.
The gift of giving is a wonderful reminder for all of us about what it really means to be heirs of God’s kingdom—sharing the gifts of this life with all those around us. What we have in this realm is temporary, on loan from God. Our belongings are not who we are, they should not define us. What we do with what we have, however, speaks to who (and whose) we are.
I hope, especially as we enter into the crush of the commercial Christmas season, that we remember what it truly means to give. May we remember that what God has given us we are meant to share; may we learn from St. Ignatius of Loyola that the willingness to give away our possessions is what brings spiritual freedom; may we recognise the teaching of the apostles that when we have enough for ourselves, we are called to share our excess with those in need (Acts 2.44-5).
May we receive with great and grateful hearts; may we give with great and grateful hearts. May the gift of giving inspire our lives as everyday Christians.