Today in the life of the church we celebrate Clement, Bishop of Rome. Although early histories disagree about the actual order of things, Clement was one of the first bishops of Rome, (scholarship thinks he was actually the fourth Bishop of Rome) being consecrated by St. Peter during the earliest years of the Church.
The gospel passage for Clement’s feast is Luke 6:37-45 , and while there are many notable quotes from this pericope, the one that caught my mind today was:
“…for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
What a truthful statement Jesus instructs his disciples, and us today. Think of anything in your life that you have done, or a time in your life when you put your heart into what you were about…Very rarely will it happen that you do relatively nothing and get major returns for your lack of effort; OR, hardly ever will you put your heart and soul into something and not get all that you put into it and more in return.
One area where perhaps the words of Jesus don’t ring quite so true perhaps is our relationship with church. Church is one place where, if one wanted–and every Sunday lots do–one could show up, participate in the service, and go home again…happy and contented that “well, I went to church today.” Now, don’t get me wrong–the fact that they showed up and came to church in the first place is great. Also, I wish that the tens of thousands of people in the metro Washington D.C. area who DON’T go to church, did.
But, ask any of the dozens and dozens of our parishioners who volunteer of their time and talent to St. Alban’s, creating, enriching, enlivening not only our faith community, but doing the work of Christ in the world outside the close…how much more they get out of their experience, their labor, their giving of themselves in Christian service. Ask them how their faith lives are enriched, how they grow spiritually, by giving of themselves in service to this place, in the name of Christ, to the hungry and broken world.
When we invest of ourselves within the community here at St. Alban’s we are living into the giving and receiving that Christ speaks of in today’s gospel lesson. When we give of the talents and abilities that are the gifts from God to each of us, when we give back to God a portion of our treasure, out of our thankfulness for the many blessings that God has given to us, when we make time for things like Christian education and worship on Sundays we are giving back out of what we have already received from God.
Over the course of this coming Advent, as an Advent discipline (much like one we would take up in Lent), take a moment at the close of every day and see if you can see and identify the gifts that God has given you that day. They may be big gifts, they may be small gifts….but look with purposeful and examining eyes at the gifts and blessings that you have received. Then in thankfulness and joyfulness for all that you have received, find a new way that you can give back to God out of your abundance of blessings.