What Can You Give to the God Who Has Everything?

December 16, 2012

Acts 20:32-35 (The Message)

"You'll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, 'You're far happier giving than getting.'"

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver

When I was a child, my parents gave me many gifts—not only at Christmas, but throughout the year, and not just gifts of toys, but gifts of life and love.  Indeed, everything I had, and everything I am was a gift from their hands.

They did not give me these gifts because I deserved them.  They knew who was naughty and nice—but it didn't seem to matter.  And, indeed, there was nothing I could give in return, even if they were looking to be repaid.

But even as a child I longed to be the giver of gifts, instead of always being the receiver of gifts.  So one year I wrapped the plaster of Paris hand-print paperweight I made in school and put it under the tree.

I have no reason to believe my parents were eager to receive a hand-print paperweight.  To be sure, now I can see they did not need it.  But when they opened the package it was with "oohs" and "ahs."  They thanked me and embraced me.

They did not need such a gift, but I think they saw I needed to give it.  And when my mother died, among the items my siblings and I discovered in her apartment, carefully wrapped in tissue paper and safely laid in a drawer, was that paperweight.  The gracious givers of everything I had and everything I am became, for my sake, the gracious receivers of my gift to them.

I think God does the same for us.  God needs nothing from us.  Indeed, everything we have and everything we are, we have received from God's hand.  We cannot give anything in return.  What can you give to the God who has everything?

But God also sees that we feel a need to respond, and God allows us to do just that by receiving our gifts of praise and devotion.  And the God who has given us everything graciously receives that gift.

Prayer

Thank you, God, for being both a gracious giver and a gracious receiver of gifts.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

Looking for a way to say "thanks" to someone at church? Click here to preview and order How Can We Thank You?, a new collection of reflections from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.

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