Give in Love

During my senior year of high school, I helped write a local, social history for our town.  In the process, I interviewed several residents who shared stories about their younger days.

Of them all, the only person I remember now is Ann, a widow and philanthropist, who reminded me of a duchess.  She had soft blue eyes and straight, silver hair wrapped in a neat bun.  Usually we met for lunch in a refined Italian restaurant more suited to society women than teen-aged girls.  Yet, Ann always treated me as a friend and always bought my lunch.

When I was with Ann, I dressed like a lady, sat up straight in my chair, ate small bites of the lasagna we often shared, and listened attentively to her stories so I could capture every word in my spiral notebook.  With her, I felt transported to another time, not only by her stories, but by her gracious manners and kind nature.

When I graduated from high school, she gave me a beautiful card.  Tucked inside was a crisp $50.00 bill.  I stared at it in awe as I realized that the money was a gift for me, not a donation to the social history project.

I no longer remember that history.  The restaurant has changed hands and been re-decorated many times since those days.  And that $50.00, which I invested in my college savings account, paid for tuition or books long ago.

Yet, Ann’s presence remains with me, her warmth and gentility, and even though she never said it, the love she gave me.  What I remember still, of all the words she spoke, is this: “Remember to give to others.  It always comes back to you.”

The child who’ll be born in a manger, who’ll teach the world new ways of living and being will teach this:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back (Luke 6:38, NRSV).

As some of us rush around to finish shopping, perhaps spending more than we intend, feeling more obligated than loving, let us remember that the price of the gift means little without the warmth of pure giving, which is the spirit of love.

As we consider our gift lists, let us remember that we give more in our presence, our kindness, our grace, and our love than ever can be wrapped in glittery paper.  When we give in love, we give ourselves as part of the gift.  And when the boxes are recycled and the gadgets wear out, no matter where we may travel next, our love will remain, flowing back to us, even years later, in rich and wondrous ways.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Habari Gani, and Happy New Year, Blessed Readers.  I love sharing this journey with you.

© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

Walking in Faith

In the famous story about Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33), Jesus goes alone to a mountain to pray, after he’s already worked a full day and fed 5,000 people.  Meanwhile, the disciples are at sea, in a boat battered by waves.  During fourth watch, (between 3:00–6:00 AM), Jesus walks upon the sea toward them.  At first, they’re terrified, fearing that he’s a ghost.

To reassure them, Jesus says, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

And Peter answers, “Lord, if it’s you, command me to come to you on the water.”

Jesus replies, “Come forth, Peter.”

So Peter leaves the boat and walks upon the sea toward Jesus. But then, when he feels a strong wind, he’s distracted. He begins to sink and calls to Jesus, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately, Jesus extends his hand, catches Peter, and says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Sometimes, we’re like Peter, not fully grounded in our faith.  When we feel buffeted by life’s strong winds, we sometimes wake in the wee, small hours of the morning, worrying about difficulties and troubles.  Sometimes, our challenges are like hobgoblins that we imagine will haunt us forever.

Yet, as a master of spiritual maturity, fully grounded in faith, Jesus reminds us: We can learn to walk upon the waves of life when we remain buoyed by the infinite well of faith within us.  We’re also reminded: No matter what may be occurring in our lives, we can go to the “mountaintop,” to reconnect with God in prayer, meditation, contemplation, and reflection.

From that perspective, we can choose whether we’ll let life’s challenges sink us, or whether we’ll choose to do the personal, spiritual work which is needed to rise above them.  These challenges include:

  • Unresolved grief
  • Unresolved conflicts
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Physical ailments
  • Misdirected compassion
  • Inertia
  • Financial concerns
  • Excessive activity, anger, clutter, overload
  • Addictive behaviors

When our faith is misdirected, we sink.  Sometimes, we drown, spiritually.  Yet, when we choose to lift ourselves up in faith, rather than sink into depths of doubt, fear and worry, we begin to meet life as it is.  We realize that we have greater strength than we imagined to overcome difficulties.  On the way, we also discover that we’re growing in spiritual maturity and walking with ease upon our own sea of life.

© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.