Dec. 3: The gift we have to give
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At Christmastime we celebrate the incarnation, God becoming flesh and walking among us. In the years following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the apostle Paul modeled following Jesus for fledgling churches across Asia Minor, putting on the mind of Christ, explaining the Good News, exhorting and encouraging new believers to faith, love, knowledge and righteousness.
Today’s passage, introductory verses from the letter to the Philippians, stand as a distillation of Paul modeling Jesus for the young church at Philippi and by extension for us. He gives thanks for them, he prays for them, he expresses confidence in them, he longs for them, he shares his aspirations for them, that they might overflow with love, knowledge and insight, and be pure and blameless, producing a harvest of righteousness and glorifying God. Surely that is what Jesus was like as he taught and led his disciples, and that is what God is like towards us, His children. Paul’s caring was a gift he gave to the church.
As we enter a season of gift giving, let us acknowledge that like Paul, our love and caring is a gift we can give to those around us – parent to child, teacher to student, family member to family member, friend to friend, even to strangers and enemies. When we do this, even in small ways, we carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in a world that desperately needs it.
God, revealed in your son Jesus, replace our fear with your transforming love. Help us to share that love and caring with those around us as a gift, freely given. Amen.
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 1:3-11 (NRSV)
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.