Aloha Friday Message – January 15, 2016 – Gift Wrapped

1603AFC011516 – Gift Wrapped

Read it online here, please.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 – Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Good morning belovéd, and Happy Aloha Friday. I hope your 2016 is off to a good start. If you made any resolutions, I hope you’re following them. I decided to make only one, and remake it day by day because it is so hard to keep. You’ll find it in Matthew 22:37-39“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” That’s more than enough for me to handle. To actually live up to that, I will need the many Gifts of Grace God provides. You remember these gifts, right? They are listed in the second portion of this passage from this coming Sunday’s Reading from the Epistles. Let’s just list them here so we can see all nine of them.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Word of Knowledge
The Word of Wisdom
The Gift of Prophecy
The Gift of Faith
The Gifts of Healings
The Working of Miracles
The Discerning of Spirits
Different Kinds of Tongues
The Interpretation of Tongues

We have these gifts so we can use them to fulfill that passage from Matthew about The Greatest Commandments. Our Gifts our given to us so that we can learn to love God and each other. These days, both of those actions are greatly needed! So much evil is happening, so many heart-breaking losses, so many angrifying incidents assault us at every turn. What are we to do? For so many people, this has been a time of severe testing. For some it has been a struggle in their own homes, and for others a deeper struggle in their own bodies, or their hearts and minds. How are we supposed to respond to all of this? It is, in all honesty, overwhelming.

One Bible passage that comes to mind is in Psalm 37:3 – Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Well, those are certainly two important things to do. It is always best to trust in the Lord. If we add to that the act of doing good things for and with others, that’s a pretty good formula for a happy life. When we use and share these gifts, we honor God, the giver of all good gifts. The result of trusting in the Lord and doing good things is the comfort of being secure in life – not worrying about material things, but enjoying in gratitude all the things God has given us. That gratitude leads us to better stewardship of those gifts of God. We need to remember that stewards are persons who manage what belongs to others. What they manage is not their own; it belongs to someone else who trusts them to take care of it. That is why we are stewards of the Earth. It doesn’t belong to any of us; it belongs to God, and we are supposed to be taking care of it.

When we exploit the Earth, and especially when we exploit each other, that’s not stewardship, that’s negligence and destruction. That kind of stuff happens in so many ways, it almost seems like it’s normal. From one-to-one interpersonal relationships like being good friends to being lovers and spouses all the way to international relationships like being military allies and political supporters, we see horrific exploitation out of self-aggrandizement, greed, and delusional nationalism. I’m pretty sure you feel the same as I do about all these acts of terror and criminal activity: I want them to stop. I want Peace, serenity, and Love. I want to see kindness, gentleness, and generosity everywhere I look. Maybe, though, I’m looking in the wrong places.

Even though the Evening News is a collection of 19-23 eight-second blurbs about something terrible happening somewhere, nearly every newscast ends with a sentence something like this: “And finally on a happier note this evening there’s this from Loveland, Colorado (or some other random place). Here’s Howdy Doodie with a heart-warming story about friends and snowflakes.” They always want to end on some puff-piece, a little sweetener like a spoonful of sugar to take away the bad taste of the preceding bad-news-blurbs. Regrettable, we come to expect that in life, too. Not that we don’t like happy endings; of course we do. But life’s not a newscast or a sitcom, and not everything ends on a happy note. Reality often exists at negative pressure to the rest of the universe. So what do we do?

Here’s what we should do. We should use the gifts of the Spirit to live out the commandments. But wait, there’s more. When we use those gifts, we – in effect – find out that they are wrapped around other things God shares with us in and through the Holy Spirit. Ah, God is just full of surprises, and so are our gifts! If you have the Gift of Faith, when you unwrap that gift and use it, inside you will find the Fruit of Faithfulness. If you have the Gift of Prophesy, when you unwrap that gift and use it, inside you will find the Fruit of Patience. Yes. You see the connection! When we unwrap and use the Gifts of the Spirit, we find the Fruit of the Spirit inside. What is the Fruit of the Spirit? Let’s look in Galatians 5:16-23 16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

bad_present_300[1]You see, those things that make up all the bad-news-blurbs are the desires of the flesh, the negligence and destruction of Worldliness. Now, you know, when God gives us gifts, he himself does the wrapping so he knows which gift-wrap to use and he knows which fruit to put inside. When our Enemy tries to give us gifts, he, too, does the wrapping, and it pretty much looks like this picture. It’s a mess. That’s how you can tell if the gift is a True Gift of a false present. Whatever is inside that package might be something I want, but only God knows if it’s something I need. Honestly, I’d feel better about that gift over there if it was better wrapped, but then you can’t judge a book – or a present – by its cover. Or can you? If I saw a book with demonic images and language on the cover, or a book with over-sexualized creatures on the front, I’d know better than to pick that up and read it. God has given all of us the gift to know wrong things when we see them; that gift comes with a complementary package of good judgment criteria. You can read about them in Philippians 4:8-9 – Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

So, just to be clear, today I am asking you to think of the Gifts of the Spirit as the gift-wrappings for the “Fruit of the Spirit”

FruitOfTheSpiritText_SThere is no law against these things. Well, at least there shouldn’t be. We find ourselves confronting those “unwritten laws” that say living a spiritual life is not acceptable; we are out of touch with reality if we believe such things really make a difference. In the world’s views, that is. In God’s view, these things ARE life. And they’re not so difficult to live with either. In an article that appeared a few years ago in THE CATHOLIC HERALD, the diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Honolulu, Fr. William J. Byron, SJ, had this to say about these seven gifts of the spirit:

 

Love is service and sacrifice.
Joy is balance at the center of the soul.
Peace is good order.
Patience is the ability to endure whatever comes.
Kindness is attentive regard for the other.
Generosity is the habitual disposition to share.
Gentleness is courageous respect for other.
Self-control in a voluntary check on the appetite for success.

If you look at the terrible and difficult things that are happening in the world and in our lives, it sort of follows that old Pareto rule, that 80/20 thing. Pareto’s rule states that a small number of causes is responsible for a large percentage of the effect, in a ratio of about 20:80. Expressed in a management context, 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one’s results absorb 80% of one’s resources or efforts. And we could extrapolate that to say that 80% of the things that try our spirits are caused by 20% of the things that happen. Or maybe even that 20% of the things that we view as catastrophic are natural physical events – like volcanoes, tornados, hurricanes, lung cancer, plagues of locusts, and the like. The other 80% might be spiritual like war, terrorism, pornography, crack and speed, infidelity, hopelessness, depraved indifference to human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and so many other things that often make being alive more difficult than it should be for so many millions of people.

We are created in God’s image, and part of the heritage of that image is the gift of self-determination. If we choose to remember what these things actually mean, we can bring that choice, that spirituality into our lives, our world, our 80/20 mix. Here’s the thing: It’s also true that 80% of the good things in this world come from the 20% of our spiritual gifts we share with each other. Today I challenge you to go for 21%. Print out this message, or cut and paste Fr. Byron’s examples into another document you can print out and hang on your wall. It’s just a reminder, but it’s also just a way to change the world and maybe even the future population of heaven.

And finally on a happier note today, here’s a heart-warming Word of Wisdom from some Old Guy I know. It’s how to make it through every Monday the World gives you.

 

Think About It

 

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

Let’s say some special prayers for ECP who took a nasty fall and is on the mend but in pain. May he feel the Gift of Healings from our prayers.

 

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Type answer *

Pages Email Newsletter Categories Archives Connect