On faith: The perfect gift is...
We've heard that this time of year, this "season" is the "season of giving." But what does it mean to give? To whom are we to give? And what are we to give? What does one give to someone who has everything--or nothing?
Certainly, we need to think about giving of our personal resources to those who are really in need. After all, we have all been blessed with so much.
But before we talk about the perfect gift we need to know why we need it. Why is anxiety or depression, or even envy or anger so pronounced this time of year? Those things are prevalent because the Christmas season is to be about family. But there is so much brokenness in our relationships. I believe this brokenness comes from our inability to give the one gift that is needed most of all: the gift of forgiveness. In so many instances we are unwilling to give that gift. If we are honest we will admit that we all think this way: "She hurt me so much I could never forgive her." "He did things that cannot be forgiven." Sadder yet is the thought, "What I did is so terrible that I can never forgive myself.
But more tragic than any of those are these two mistaken beliefs: 1) "God could never forgive me for what I've done," or 2) I don't need forgiveness from anyone."
Without the gift of forgiveness, either for oneself, or from others, no other gift is worth anything.
Whatever our thinking, here is what God really wants for us to know. When His Son, Jesus was born in Bethlehem angels appeared to some shepherd outside that little town. The angels told the shepherds God's feelings toward us: "Peace on earth, goodwill toward men." Why does God feel this way? Here's why: Through Jesus' perfect life, his innocent death and his resurrection from the dead, God would forgive and forget our sin. God would reconcile us to himself. He forgave us who as rebellious sinners were unforgivable. Forgiveness is the ultimate gift we can give to others.
The ultimate giver, the ultimate gift: God, giving his Son, to be our Savior.
What a wonderful gifts is the gift of God's love and forgiveness. All of us crave this gift. This gift is yours! Though you have been rebellious and have strayed from the love of your heavenly father, he seeks you out and desires forgive you and to hold you in his arms. This season--and every day--is a wonderful occasion to celebrate the love and forgiveness that God has freely given to you in Jesus.
Try this sometime: when someone errs against you--maybe it's as simple as someone bumping into you--or it's a clerk dropping a coin on the belt at the grocery store. When they say, "I'm sorry," instead of saying, "No problem" or "It's OK," try saying, "You're forgiven."
I've often seen people catch their breath and say, "Thank you!
We need to hear, "You're forgiven!"
Forgiveness. It's the one gift we can all afford to generously give--and thankfully receive.
Pastor Kirk Schield serves Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, Two Harbors. He would be glad to speak more to anyone who needs God's forgiveness. You can stop in (2014 7th Ave.), call (834-5345), or e-mail him (firstname.lastname@example.org).