Picture Advent Day 6: Seeing

Picture Advent Day 6: Seeing

December 4, 2020 by Kimi Floyd Reisch

John 1: 16-18 (The Message)
We all live off his generous bounty,
        gift after gift after gift.
    We got the basics from Moses,
        and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
    This endless knowing and understanding—
        all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
    No one has ever seen God,
        not so much as a glimpse.
    This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
        who exists at the very heart of the Father,
        has made him plain as day.

The way the story is most often told – “for God so loved the world, they gave…” – makes it seem like a gift from a benevolent God to a Beloved people. God gave – a singular gift.

But if that is the only part of the story we tell, we miss the other gifts given during the birth and life of Jesus. Every section of the story, from the pregnancy of Elizabeth to the wise men finding a new route home, is a lesson in human generosity. Not one of those gifts involved things.

Somehow along the way we have forgotten that giving gifts does not have to mean more stuff.

Toys will be forgotten in a year or two. Clothes will be outgrown – in either size or style. In the end, gift or not, things are still just things. But gift does not need to mean thing.

Gifts can be so much more, just as the Christmas story demonstrates. Gifts can be experiences. Instead of giving kids the newest fad toy, give them memories. Visit a museum, take a hike, or attend a sporting event. Ask grandparents to take the kids on road trips or suggest they invite the kids to come for a solo visit. Create cherished memories instead of more things that will be outgrown or set aside.

Then widen the generosity. When people ask what you would like for a gift, ask them to instead donate to a charity. Or ask them to share a meal and a story.

This does not mean to never give things – but to balance things with other kinds of gifts. One of the many lessons Jesus taught tells us to seek God with the eyes of a child. Children do not buy their parents things, but that does not mean they do not give many generous gifts. As adults, we need to remember to give gifts that still reflect that childhood way of seeing.

That type of generosity disproves the statement of John 1. We cannot see God with our eyes, but when we open our hearts to see by giving generously and witnessing the generosity of others, we see the reflection of a God who gave their only child.

Where do you see generosity in the world right now? How are you living generously as you prepare to remember the birth of Jesus? And when you see and do, do you see God?

Prayer: God, open our hearts to see your reflection in the world. So many in the world need right now. We mourn those lost to this pandemic. We lift up those who are struggling financially watching jobs and careers shift or end. We hold our children, youth and young adults who are learning resiliency as they practice distance learning. We bring them and so many other needs to you and ask you to bring comfort to their need. And we pray that you will help us live generously. Amen

Tomorrow’s word is Promise.

We invite you to join The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ on Facebook over the next few weeks as we Picture Advent. How do you envision the words of Advent? What images come to mind? This year, as we are all far apart on Advent, maintaining social distances to keep us safe, join us in a new tradition and participate in #ONAPicture Advent. We’re inviting you to use each day’s theme to inspire a daily photo – either a new picture or an older one. Each afternoon, we will post a new reflection for that day’s word with a focus text, prayer, and an image. Then, post your chosen image as a response to our thread. At the bottom of our reflection is the word for the next day, allowing you to consider what the word means to you. And PLEASE COPY – use this chart to have your own #ONAPictureAdvent within your faith community.

Here is the entire list.

Word of the Day Date
Hope 11/29/20
Prepare 11/30/20
Wait 12/1/20
Listen 12/2/20
Affirm 12/3/20
See 12/4/20
Promise 12/5/20
Peace 12/6/20
Tender 12/7/20
Comfort 12/8/20
Home 12/9/20
Ancestors 12/10/20
Kindness 12/11/20
Nurture 12/12/20
Joy 12/13/20
Open 12/14/20
Awaken 12/15/20
Courage 12/16/20
Truth 12/17/20
Provide 12/18/20
Grace 12/19/20
Love 12/20/20
Shine 12/21/20
Blessed 12/22/20
Rejoice 12/23/20
Glory 12/24/20