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Re-Gifting Christmas Gifts?

by His Grace Bishop John, from The Word Magazine, December 2016

My wife and I never seemed to be able to settle the question, Is it right to re-gift? My love would shop for days, seeking the perfect gift to express her love and care for the person for whom she was shopping. I was never much of a shopper, and re-gifting allowed me to recycle really nice items that I didn't need, or had no room to store. Surely one could make the case that, when it comes to money, and perhaps wine, everyone re-gifts. If we receive gifts of money, and we give gifts of money, we are sort of re-gifting. I could even make the case that things, like money, convey the transfer of value.

Christmas gifts are somehow related to remembering the gift from God of His Son, or rather, the gift of Christ of Himself. This gift is offered in full knowledge that, with it, come suffering, humiliation and death. This gift is offered so that we can be given real life, that is, the love and life of God within the life and love of the Holy Trinity. The gift is eternal, as we are joined to God, but this does not exempt us from suffering and death. In truth, being Christian often causes us harm, or provokes others to cause us harm. In this context, our cheese and wine baskets, our toys and electronics, and even our monetary gifts, pale.

Christ gave Him self for us, so somehow we should do the same. We should give ourselves first to God, by co-operating with Him in expressing His love for our loved ones and the world. In addition to the symbols of our love – gifts – we should give ourselves to each other by paying attention to our spouses, children, siblings, friends, and all we meet.

For too long, as a society we have been looking inside. Cutting ourselves off from others, we have filled ourselves with selfish thoughts and desires. We put on earphones and block out the world. We shut our curtains and cut ourselves off from the world. We sit in restaurants and play with our smart phones. Yet we are social creatures: if we put aside the games that we play by ourselves to interact with God and others, we can find deeper satisfactions.

How can I tie my illustration of re-gifting to my Christmas message? God gave our life to us, so we should re-gift that life to God and others. Or, perhaps, God loves us, so we should give this love to Him and others. God is love, and we are called by our nature to love.

Christ gave Himself to us, so we need to give ourselves to each other and really love.

Bishop John