Gifts of grace

I have been reading a little book of meditations for Christmas and one of the entries invites the reader to reflect on the importance of rest. The reading for that day is Mark 6 30-34 where Jesus hears all that the disciples had done that day and after listening to everything Jesus says “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while”.

This time after Christmas is a good time to rest, leaving behind the business of preparations for the festive season and not being persuaded, for a while at least, to get back to the pressure and expectations which often seem to dictate our lives. The writer of this particular meditation also invites us to think about the gifts we have received in relation to God’s gifts to us.  I thought about what I had received this Christmas and how I could relate some of these to God’s gift to me.  My eldest grandson gave me the latest Mary Berry cook book, I am a great fan of hers and I was delighted to receive it. It gives me a new insight to provide food, for myself and others and finding new ways, new recipes, of doing this.  The spiritual food offered to us by Jesus will nourish our souls.  If we return to the recipe book (the bible) we will discover new and exciting ways of understanding God’s love and his message to us. Sometimes when I try to cook something without reading the recipe properly or skip it altogether because I think I know how to do it, well it usually goes wrong.  I can relate this to not spending time to listen and be with God and making time to read the words that will nourish my life and guide me to offer the right “food” for others whenever I can.

Another gift I received was from my other grandson which was a lovely warm scarf.  He chose it with such care knowing the colours I like from the shop which I especially like also!  Receiving a gift like this is reminds me of the gifts God gives us. He knows what we need, what will suit us and when we accept it with love and gratitude it will keep us warm in our hearts as we come to realize his amazing generosity and love for us. The gift of a new day, the beauty we see all around us, all come from God.

Finally I’d like to share with you part of an article I read in the Church Times from Rev’d Lucy Winkett who tells of a “gift” she received. Lucy is the vicar of St. James’s church in Piccadilly which is in the heart of the city where many rough sleepers can be found.  Rev’d Lucy writes…

“Last week a man who was homeless smashed a window into the basement of the church and slept in a chasuble that he found there. He said that he had had a good night’s sleep – on the sofa rather than the street, wrapped in green silk and gold thread.  Even though the dry cleaning bill was higher than usual, I can’t think of a better use for it. And he doesn’t know that his gift to me is that he’ll always be with me at the altar, when I wear that same chasuble to break, for the people, the body of God”.

Lucy quotes also the words of the theologian Gustavo Gutierrez who says that “It matters where we put our bodies because it mattered where God put God’s body: on a cross.”