Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 17th January 2021.
We are in the Church’s liturgical season of Epiphanytide, the season between Christmas and Lent. In the Western Christian Church the traditional date for the Feast of the Epiphany is 6th January, when we celebrate the revelation to the outside world of the baby Jesus, God incarnate, when ‘the Wise Men from the East’ found Jesus in Bethlehem and offered their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
We tend to think of gifts in various ways. Firstly, there are tangible gifts that we give to people, such as the presents we give to family and friends at Christmas and for birthdays, weddings and other celebrations. These gifts are designed to show our love for others.
Secondly, a gift can be a way of saying thank you to someone who has been kind or helpful to us.
Thirdly, we often say that someone who is good at singing, playing a musical instrument, painting or some other craft, has a gift, in the sense that we use the word ‘talent’. Usually, we have to work at such gifts, lest we lose them. Some people may think they have no talents or skills. But simply the ability to make people happy is a talent.
Fourthly, there are some gifts that we may never know about, such as when people pray for us.
Fifthly, there are intangible gifts that money can’t buy – the gift of life, and the family and friends we love and cherish. Every day is a gift. Time is a gift (that we use wisely or not!). Forgiveness is a gift. Anything that makes someone else feel better is a gift to that person.
I feel sure that most people would agree that the greatest gift of all that money can’t buy is love. As the Beatles sang: ‘Money can’t buy me love’. We can’t demand love from other people, but we can give it.
The best quotation I have found about giving is from an American, Richard Braunstein: ‘It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.’ Now there’s a quotation to reflect on!
I said above that no person can demand love from another. But God demands love from all of us. Love is a duty towards God and our neighbour: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (The First Letter of John, Ch 4, v 11)
Gifts challenge us to be generous. Sometimes we may feel that we cannot be as generous as we would like to be. But often the smallest token can be appreciated by the receiver. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the American poet who wrote ‘The Song of Hiawatha,’ once said: ‘Give what you have; to someone it may be better than you dare to think.’
We may think that we cannot afford to make gifts to people every day of the year, in terms of material gifts, but we can daily pass on to others the gift of love that we have received from God. It need only take a few words, or a card, or a telephone call, or even just a smile. We can afford all of these – so let’s be generous!