As we go about our daily lives we are presented with a myriad of people bringing gifts of many shapes and sizes. The challenge we have is being open to these gifts…
During the pandemic we (the church) noticed an increase in spontaneous acts of generosity towards us, not just from regular churchgoers but especially from local businesses. We’ve taken the time to nurture relationships: walking alongside people, baptising, marrying, burying, being with people through the downs and the ups of daily life. From that ideas have blossomed… The village shop ran a raffle in aid of the church, they sold hemp bags and gave the proceeds to the church; when we ran a nativity trail and an Easter trail they donated the chocolates. Fast forward to today and our local pub is incredibly generous too, running a quiz night where they donated a cheese platter and bottle of wine to each team; we host a Bible study there too. Just before Christmas we are hosting a community Christmas lunch in the pub: it’s a pay what you can event for those in the community who live alone. In the summer of 2023 we’ll be hosting a postponed beer festival.
It’s not all good news though. A local resident donated several arrangements of artificial flowers, which were soon put on display with gratitude. Sadly some people thought they were not good enough – a whole range of reasons were given, but ultimately the flowers went back. Accepting gifts can mean, for some of us, being prepared to accept things that challenge us.
If we think about our discipleship, one of the key things is accepting the gifts God is nurturing within us. All too often we hide our lights under a bushel because we are overly concerned with what others think, or listen to our own inner critics too much. God gives us a plethora of gifts and when we use them, everyone benefits and we see signs of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
The furthering of that Kingdom is part of all our vocations, and we can be reluctant to hear Jesus’ call to follow him. It’s important for us to realise that the person Jesus called is not the same person who is reading this today; God is constantly transforming us into the people God wants us to be. A big part of that transformation is us being open to discern the vocations of those around us, accepting that the gifts of others not only complement our own, they enable everyone to flourish.
As part of our evangelism, we walk alongside our communities and we get to know people. Conversations and interactions happen naturally as we meet people where they are, learning what they are passionate about; what gifts and talents they have. Through the creative and imaginative acceptance of their gifts we share the gospel in new ways. A church tower lit up during the Christmas season suddenly becomes a nativity scene on a grand scale, as locally carved wooden sculptures are silhouetted against the tower on dark winter nights. Easter gardens adorn our churchyards using the skills of local carpenters- the wood donated by local builders’ merchants. By using and honouring their skills we live Kingdom lives.
God gives gifts in abundance, we are called to accept them and use them to God’s glory. What gifts will you accept today?
Revd Chris Precious is the vicar of Kinnerley with Melverley, Knockin with Maesbrook and Maesbury
and one co-leader of the Community of St Chad