Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Season of Giving (All Year Long and For A Lifetime)

Give, give, give. And when you have given, give more.

I am no preacher, but I think on words from the Bible, every once in a while. Last Sunday, we read what John the Baptist (in Matthew 3:1-12) said about trees. Trees either bear fruit or they don’t. John said that the trees that bear fruit will be cultivated by the farmer, while those that do not will be cut down and consigned to the flames.

Of course, this preacher man was talking about people.

This time of year is called “The Season of Giving”. I think this is a sad commentary on our culture. Giving is not something to be shoved in a month or two, but it is an everyday event, week in and out, every month, all year long.

Here is a riddle: How can genuinely generous people limit their generosity? Well, the answer is they cannot, you cannot make them do so, and they simply won’t.

This season we call “The Season of Giving” is really about taking, isn’t it? How much money can the marketplace take from consumers? How much can consumers take for personal consumption, while under the guise of doing for others? How much more can government take or borrow or steal from public programs, public schools, public health and public parks, so that the rich can take bailouts, bonuses, undeserved tax cuts and lucrative government contracts, and take our people’s jobs overseas to bestow on others? By their absence of fruit, we know them only too well; there is an absence of generosity toward the average person in these dread deeds. These trees do not bear fruit; these are ornamental trees that suck up more nutrients than they need, starving the rest of the orchard.

We, the People, are being taken for a ride.

And yet, and still, the spirit of giving is alive. It is not in the running around and buying of things. It is not in the rushing and the stress.

Giving is alive in the magic of the unexpected. The smile from someone, waiting in line just like you are. The tokens of friendship that start with a warm cup of tea and radiate outward. The giving of food, not just to the Food Bank, but to your neighbor—just because. The passing on of kids' clothes to younger children of another family. Freecycling any and all things that you no longer want or need, so that someone else can extend the life of perfectly good manufactured items. This is good fruit.

This good fruit is all day, everyday giving. These are trees that bear fruit and prosper, in spite of all the taking that goes on around them.

As for that other kind of tree, the preacher man John said there is an ax, waiting to cut down those non-fruit-bearing trees. In history, we have seen this come to pass. It is a sad story, and innocent people are also hurt. How it will play out in our time, we cannot see.

What we can see (and delight in and give thanks for) is that there are many lowly and unassuming trees bearing good fruit everyday, whether or not they are properly nourished, whether it is asked of them or not. There are no limits to what good trees will bear. There are no limits to what good people will do.

God bless the beautiful people that make everyday a gift! 

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