What do you do?
Tony E Dillon Hansen
16 December 2018
A reflection based upon Luke 3:7-18
In the tradition from which I grew up, we light a pink candle this week and think of joy. (not the soap or the woman, but joy in our hearts. For me as a youth, all I could think of was Christmas and Santa were just around the corner. Family dinners and such.
These days I don’t do much with the Santa, but we have learned of a similar character with a tradition on December 5th and 6th (also celebrated on Dec 19th in some parts of the world) for the feast of St Nicholas of Myra. (Sinter Klaus) He was a bishop of the 4th Century Roman Empire and known for providing dowries, saving the lives of people and as a patron saint for sailors. On the night of December 5th, tradition holds that people would be busy bringing little care packages around the neighborhood In honor of St Nicholas (of course with anonymity).
When we think of the holidays these days, we think of gift giving and joyous occasions. If we think of the story about St Nicholas, why did he gift those gifts and dowries?
That kind of leads to what John the Baptist poses to us today.
Why do you do what you do?
John, in one of his best sermons recorded, asks us, what do you do?
He challenges us to think about this question with all of the people in attendance (government and military people, regular common people and wealthy).
His answer is astoundingly simple
With all that is happening, the pressures of the season, of family, of justice or of finishing a semester like I did. What should we do?
Do what you do best and do it with good heart.
Practice love. Practice justice. Practice compassion.
What are your priorities and preoccupations?
We are getting ready for New Years resolutions and thinking of the gift giving as I mentioned a moment ago. What are you doing to prepare your resolutions?
Incidentally, why do we buy gifts and why do we get gifts?
When you give a gift, what of that gift is you? What of that gift means something to the receiver?
Just because it happens to be on a wish list is not necessarily meaningful.
What do they need in the heart of their hearts?
What do you want to inspire?
How do you want to be remembered?
What can you do to bring yourself into that ?
John tells us to bring you – the exuberant, sparkly, the honest and the broken YOU
This reminds me of a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “that you be the change you want to see in the world.”
In the season of advent, Be the hope you wish to see. Be the peace you wish to see. Be the joy you wish to see. Be the love you wish to see. The world will thank you for it.
Part of gift giving is receiving gifts. When you receive a gift what does it mean to you ? When you think of all that God has given you today, What will you do with your gifts? Even better, remember you are a gift from God! If you want to see gifts from God in this world, then let’s be that gift from God – with all of our hearts and minds.
When you value your gifts, you may help others to remember the gifts they already have.
When you enjoy the time and place where you are with the friends and company of your family and neighbors like you have here, we may be the joy we wish to see in the world.
When you do give gifts, we don’t want to just give to collect dust.
When you gift, John tells us to bring you and your story. Bring the love you have. Bring the justice from your heart into the world. Bring you!
That may not feel like the luxurious or glamorous gift (maybe if we wrap ourselves up in sparkly foil paper we might show that sparkle.) You don’t need to dress like a 4th century bishop either, because your beautiful smile can reveal how beautiful God has been to you.
You are what God made.
You are the hope live.
You are the faith that breathes.
Your story is valuable.
Your suffering and struggle mean something.
Walt Whitman said
“That you are here – that life exists and identity.
That powerful play goes on,
And you may contribute a verse.”
What will your verse be?
You are here in this life to live and reveal that gift from God in you.
You are broken, beautiful and God made.
What do you do?
Be the best that God made you to be.
Be the Joy you wish to see.
Thanks be to God.