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God’s Gift; Our Gift

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

I have commented in the past that there are about 10 scripture passages that are my favorites—and John’s gospel, chapter 1, is certainly one of them.  Here’s a way that I think about verse 14:  And God’s Word, a flesh and blood child, came to live in our neighborhood and this treasured child was full of grace, truth, justice and peace.

During this season of Advent and Christmastide, I am drawn to the remarkable, even audacious, story of how God became real to ordinary people like Mary, a teen-ager, and Joseph, a carpenter, and shepherds minding their flocks in the Bethlehem hills.  It seems, from Luke chapter 2, that this cosmic event lit up the skies with unbelievable music and showers of stars and angels.  What a story!  What a sacred story!

Now, millennia later, that story is being re-told in simple readings of the Bible story to pageants in churches to televised musicals and high-tech operas with talented soloists.  There seems to be no end in ways to tell and experience the story of Good News to all people.

What could this story mean today?  How does God’s gift encourage our gifts?

It could mean the gift of healing from disease.  For someone who has suffered from cancer, asthma, glaucoma, leukemia, there are new medications that bring blessed relief.

It could mean the gift of friendship.  For someone suffering from anxiety, loneliness, and isolation due to mental illness, there is someone who reaches out, brings a friendly wave, handshake, or an invitation to a holiday supper.

It could mean the gift of a warm coat, furry hat, or insulated gloves.  In our part of the country, wintertime brings extremes—50 degrees on a Friday and then freezing 20’s on Sunday.  Clothing to fit the cold extreme is a way to keep the body warm and the spirit cheered.

It could mean the gift of imagination.  Children who have suffered abuse create lovely drawings and colored art creations.  They sing, they dance, they tell stories when they are loved, listened to, and mentored.  It seems that music, art, and play are ways to create new patterns of behavior and new days of healing and hope.

It could mean the resolve of folks who know the Christmas story to practice justice, support service ministries, and add their financial support to healing ministries such as Prairie View.

It could mean a reminder that the Christmas story is one of a baby coming to live in our neighborhood.  That means we have a responsibility and privilege to welcome new life, to assist in the child’s growth, and to be a loving presence in the child’s life.

The Good News of Christmas in 2019 is that God’s Word is living in our neighborhood.  Rejoice!

Rev. Dorothy Nickel Friesen, a retired Mennonite pastor and denominational minister, lives in Newton and has served as a volunteer on the board of Prairie View and now serves on the Chaplaincy Advisory Committee.