God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Peace is my last gift to you, my peace I leave with you; Peace which the world cannot give, I give to you. (John 14:27)
The gifts of life and peace, in the above contexts are God-given gifts, but it is well within our capabilities to give these same gifts, albeit in diminished forms, to those around us. Maybe we can’t give eternal life, but we do bring new life into the world, literally. And there is the hope that we can find ways to unlock the kind of death that various addictions and self-destruction represent in ourselves and others. Jesus promises a peace that this world cannot give, but our best selves work hard to bring about the kinds of peace within families and communities that this world can give.
Unlike the word “love”, which is thrown around rather freely in our culture (can we actually “love” things like a new pair of shoes or going to the movies?), the word “gift” isn’t used often enough I think. Humans have created lots of gift-giving occasions, but we don’t always recognize all the forms that gifts can take. We use the word “gift” for things and talents, but sometimes forget to use it for the many small graces of our daily lives, such as the gift of time to sit quietly or the gift of laughing out loud with a friend. And we don’t often think about the ways we bestow gifts on others, perhaps by actually listening, or by simply being nice to someone we don’t know.
And then there is the great gift we give to others when we receive their gift to us gracefully and gratefully. A meal prepared during a time of illness, an invitation to sort out differences, the love that says no sometimes or that forces us to grow and demands our better selves. That’s the gift of love, given and received.
(God so loved the world by Bob Chilcott)