" H e y   A l l "
           Notes from the Vicar of Grace
              inclusion service discovery gratitude
The Rev. Bill Harper

Hey All.

Hey All

Last night Stephen Colbert reminded me, loudly, that I only have "23 more shopping days until I have to make Jesus Christ might personal savior!"  That sort of says it all.

23 shopping days to celebrate salvation, inspiration, redemption.  23 shopping days to buy forgiveness, mercy, justice, hope.  Of course it makes us feel ridiculous (and maybe even ashamed) that the Good News becomes Retail News.  But there it is.  There it's been.  There it's gonna be.  I'm not changing that.  I've got no new wisdom on our consumption by consumption.  It will take something even more powerful and wonderful than the moon I saw last night (after I put the Colbert Report to bed) to shift that tide.

For me this has been a live topic at home.  How do we shift our own family values?  In other words-how do we actually shift them instead of just talking about it?  How do we find the joy of generosity and the gladness of giving without creating grief and guilt?  Obviously alternative gift giving comes to mind, and it's really no new idea.  "Alternatives" have always been available to us, in lots of different ways.  Gifts of time; gifts of personal treasures; simple joys, favors, something delicious.  Lots of alternatives out there.  And today, there is a healthy industry of these so-called alternative catalogs.  Grace Outreach even has ideas and ways to give.  Look again at our latest newsletter and the Outreach page on the website. And then there's the wonderful catalog published by Episcopal Relief and Development-it's so specific about how each gift matters.  And each one does.  A recent NY Times article describes how so much good happens in the world through small, individual donors.  It matters.  We can do it.  We can make it "mainstream" instead of alternative.

As I've thought (again!) about this annual struggle I have experienced some graceful good news.  I've been reminded that I really do like to give.  Giving nurtures and awakens my generosity.  It helps me remember I have "enough"-therefore I can give, share.  Do I have daily bread?  Yes.  Who doesn't have it?  Can I help?  Yes.  Giving-giving away-is so, so good for us.  It has very little to do with consuming, shopping, or personal saviors.  And it has everything to do with Jesus.

And BTW: If you like counting down the days, try the great Advent calendar on our website, or this one from the National Cathedral. 

                                       Bill's Signature

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