Friday, December 20, 2013

We all have a gift - open it!

When I was 12 years old, my college-age brother bought me an amazing gift – a stereo system complete with turntable, cassette deck, radio, speakers and a vinyl album of “Synchronicity” by the Police. The giving of this gift required lots of working overtime and thoughtfulness on my brother’s part but the receiving of this gift was one that still makes me smile years later. The memory of that Christmas is one that makes me feel a sense of home, even though the tangible gift is long gone. We all have a longing for things in life to become whole or complete, but we live with the reality of that tension that things aren't quite right. In recent reading of “Undone” by Laura Sumner Truax with First Lutheran’s True Sisterhood group, I have been learning about the tension of living in-between the spaces of Saint and Sinner.

 Laura writes,
“(The creation story) framed and ethic and a worldview. These were stories that helped explain why brothers had a hard time getting along, why men and women were different from the animals around them. They explored the unseen connectedness of everything that lives. Most importantly, these stories expressed meaning and purpose for humanity.” (Undone, pg. 23)

While creation was made for “good”, if you have read the creation account – you won’t have to go far before all of the good begins to fray. Eden was intended to be, “a wholeness…in the beginning…a home” (Truax, 24). However, this ideal of home, perfection, and total wholeness is something that always seems to be just beyond humanity’s grasp.

Sampson from the book of Judges is another example of this desire for home, and the difficult reality of it missing the mark. Sampson was a gifted child, who had been a blessing to his previously barren mother. His mother was instructed to, “be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come to his head, for the boy shall be a nazarite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:4-5)

Sampson’s calling was one that set him apart (nazarite) to serve God fully and without distraction; but before long Sampson’s resolve fray. His veracious appetites (read Judges 13-16) seem to run in total contrast with the calling that God had placed on his life. While in the end, Sampson was instrumental in helping to begin the process of being freed from their enemies; his life literally ended in rubble. Samson ultimately was redeemed and forgiven by God, but I can’t help but imagine what could have been accomplished, if only Sampson had wholeheartedly followed God’s direction and calling.

We all have God-given gifts that we are called to use in service to God and others. Adam had a knack for names, Eve had an ear to listen carefully, and Sampson had great strength. While our gifts can have a shadow side; (Adam blaming Eve, Eve following the serpent’s advice, and Sampson giving his strength in exchange for desire.) ; God desires’ we use our gifts to show his light and love in the world. While we can live as sinners, God calls us as his saints through the work of Jesus on the cross. Like all of the people that we have read about in scripture, “we create our lives with little choices.” (Truax, pg. 31)

The album title that I received for Christmas all those years ago is one that also speaks to the joy experienced when things come together unexpectedly. Synchronicity is: the synchronism of events that appear to be connected but have no demonstrable causal relationship. (  God-given gifts help to connect us in ways that we never imagine. When partnered together in the body of Christ, using our God-given gifts becomes a joyous experience of synchronicity that can travel well beyond the doors of our building.

The first step toward using our God-given gifts, is knowing what our gifts are. We unwrap Christmas gifts in order to enjoy, use and apply them and enhance our daily lives. Our built-in gifts need to be unwrapped too! While we are always aware of our shadow sides, it is important to take some time to consider what our gifts are and how we can use them to serve God and humanity. What is your gift?

We all have gifts and we have people in our lives that need us to use them. Our gifts, when used with God’s purpose in mind can be a means of light, home and mending that is needed in the frayed edges of the world. 

In 2014, imagine how our God-given gifts can be used to foster light, hope, joy, peace and love. These are the kind of gifts that last – beyond our individual lives and times. These God-given gifts are eternal and call us all to leave the light on for every heart that is searching for home.

For more information on True Sisterhood Jamestown Group, contact Tara L. Eastman @ 716-969-3950 or

Works Cited: “Undone: When coming apart puts you back together” by: Laura Sumner Truax