We could never equal Jesus’ gift exchange

  • Saturday, December 23, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

There’s a scene in the show “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon is preparing for a gift exchange with Penny. Sheldon gets many gifts of varying values so he can give Penny the appropriate one in response to whatever she gets him.

Sheldon ends up receiving a kind and thoughtful gift from Penny. So much so that he gives her every gift he prepared. It was quite an uneven gift exchange.

As we prepare for Christmas, we think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was given a somewhat confusing and overwhelming gift: a baby she was not prepared for. We’re invited to ask ourselves this question: What “gift” has dropped into your life this year that you never planned on receiving?

Maybe an unexpected health situation, a new child in the family, a job change, a difficult mental health experience or a new relationship. All these life experiences can both inspire and frustrate us. When we choose to journey deeper into them, we learn they’re all a gift that can teach us something. And how we respond to the gifts matter. We can resist or avoid. Or we can receive and trust.

How we receive Christ this year matters. Will we welcome him into a new area in our life together? Or will we avert our eyes, hoping he doesn’t come near?

An uneven gift exchange can feel awkward when we don’t have a gift of equal size to give back. If you struggle to receive gifts and grace in this life from others, we can learn from Mary.

Richard Rohr says it this way: “If Mary was trustfully carrying Jesus during this time, it is because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts, in fact the spiritual gift. If we ourselves try to manage God in any way, or even to manage ourselves, we will never bring forth the Christ but only our small selves. The Eternal Christ, you might say, is precisely that part of you that you have received as a gift.”

We miss the point of Christmas when we have trouble receiving the gift of Jesus himself. We try to dismiss the gift because we can’t comprehend someone would want to gift us with so much. Someone wants to give me the child of the creator of the world who’s going to show me how to live and love in a new and beautiful way? Nope, doesn’t sound like an easy gift to me.

Our spiritual work is to increasingly let go of our need to control and sink into the beautiful truth that love always wins. And that usually means an uneven gift exchange. Either we’re giving love that may not be returned – or we’re receiving love that simply needs to be received.

Jenny Smith is pastor of the Marysville United Methodist Church. Her column runs monthly.

More in Opinion

Adults need community service, too

For a number of years, schools in Washington state have emphasized that… Continue reading

Leaders work for students to learn trades

By David Beyer, Leonard Kelley, Jon Nehring, Nate Nehring and Barbara Tolbert… Continue reading

No stamp of approval yet on balloting costs

OLYMPIA — Even with the postage paid, thousands of Washington voters didn’t… Continue reading

Expectations higher along with pay

Congratulations to the teachers in Marysville, Arlington and Lakewood for the big… Continue reading

A look at how Marysville spends its money

In last month’s column I wrote about the various sources of city… Continue reading

Home-selling starting to cool off

Have you noticed? It’s not such an insane, over-the-top real estate market… Continue reading

Give yourself a break

Being a pastor is a fascinating profession. We’re invited into powerful moments… Continue reading

Praise and raze (Sept. 1)

Praise to the Marysville School District and the teachers union for coming… Continue reading

Program clears a path for trade jobs

A skilled workforce is critical to the livability of our region, productivity… Continue reading

Pack nutritious lunches for schoolchildren

The first day of school is right around the corner. Back to… Continue reading

Time to prepare children for start of school

The Marysville School District is gearing up for the start of a… Continue reading