Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Advent Musings: Part 2

    I had this friend in high school who was so popular (in the band, in theater, in choir, good grades) that during our senior year he was voted Most Scholarly, Most Humorous, and Most Dramatic. Talk about overkill! As is turned out, our school only allowed him to accept one of these distinctions, with others going to the runners-up. And so it was that I was given the secondhand honor of being declared "Most Dramatic." Lucky me. It does often seem like some people are given an abundance of gifts while others can think of literally nothing to say when asked "And what are you good at?" How many of us have secretly wished we were as gifted as that other youth minister across town? Perhaps our understanding of gifts is too narrow.

    In this season of shopping madness and gift-getting and giving, consider discussing with your youth an understanding of "gifts" that goes beyond the demonstrative talents or material goods our culture prizes so well and open their eyes to the gifts of the Spirit. Ask your youth to consider:
    • Who among you has the gift of hospitality -- the gift of welcoming in "the stranger" and helping them feel comfortable and valued.

    • Who among you has the gift of listening -- the gift to let another person pour out their heart and then offering them a word of comfort or wisdom?

    • Who among you has the gift of healing -- the ability to reach out to others in a time of crisis and need and make the touch of God real and tangible?

    • Who among you has the gift of leadership--the ability to energize others to put their faith into action in places where others are hurting and in need?

    The Advent season is the perfect time to focus on these gifts of the Spirit that really matter -- the kind of gifts that won't end up collecting dust on some shelf or find their way into our next garage sale. They are the gifts that draw us together and nurture us as a community on the journey of faith.