December 7, 2012

Be Our Guest / Tom Yost

‘A Gift Exchange’ worth considering this holiday season and beyond

It usually happens around this time of year sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s called “a gift exchange.”

Most of us have experienced it with our family, co-workers, friends or in some kind of social circle. We get together with members of the group, and we agree to exchange gifts in the “spirit” of the holiday season.

There are usually certain conditions placed upon the exchange. The participants put their name in a hat, and each person draws the name of another person to “buy for.” There is usually an agreed upon spending limit for purchasing a gift.

Oftentimes, “wish lists” are made known to help participants make wise gift choices. Secretly, we hope some people will draw our name more than others based upon their ability to make good gift choices.

Now, I am not opposed to a gift exchange. I have participated in many of them. However, I would like to turn our attention this holiday season to “The Gift Exchange.”

It is the exchange our God wants with us every day, and especially at Christmas. Each Christmas, we celebrate the birth—and gift—of God’s only Son.

Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is the most loving and unconditional gift that any of us will ever receive. God drew all of our names in this exchange and offers us Jesus, who is the fulfillment of any gift wish list we could possibly imagine.

By virtue of our baptism, we draw God’s name in this gift exchange. And this exchange is not for a season, but for a lifetime.

What kind of gift exchange can we possibly make with God? What is on God’s wish list? What can I give in return to what God has given me? This is the most fundamental and sacred gift exchange we will ever make with another.

Christian stewardship draws our attention to this gift exchange. God has given us his very best and, in exchange, asks us to give the best of ourselves.

What is our best? How are we to be accountable and make good gift choices?

A Christian steward knows the answer.

Receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others and return them with increase to the Lord. This is the ultimate in “A Gift Exchange.”

Merry Christmas, everyone!

(Tom Yost is pastoral associate of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany.)

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