parkdale united church

429 Parkdale Avenue, OTTAWA, Ontario K1Y 1H3

January 2020

On-going Giving and Receiving of Gifts

In the Christian liturgical calendar, the season of Epiphany follows the season of Christmas (12 days). Although gift giving and receiving is so popularly associated with Christmas, it may be that we are being invited to continue this activity into Epiphany, though perhaps in a different way.

The season of Epiphany invites reflection on and commitment to the ways in which we may discern and join God in the revealing of God’s self through Christ to all humanity.


The chief biblical story that epitomizes the season of Epiphany is the one describing the arrival of the wise ones from the East who bring their worship and their gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold to present in adoration of the child Jesus (Matthew 1:1-12). The essence of the story is not about the physical gifts per se but about what they symbolize about the identity, life, mission and meaning of God’s gift of the one named Jesus. Namely, that Jesus is from divine royal lineage inaugurating a Reign of God wholly unlike anything humans can construct (gold); that the “aroma” of the in-breaking of this way of ordering creation’s life and relationships will be a just and healing one (frankincense); and that the way in which this newness will be ushered in will be by way of absorbing pain, suffering, rejection, and even crucifixion (myrrh).

Epiphany is literally about the “shining forth” of God in the world. It is about how the gift that is God in Jesus, continues to be poured out into the lives of people and into the life of the world. As well, it is about how we respond to that “shining forth” and that “pouring out”. We are called to partner with God in giving the gifts of ourselves, our resources, our faith, our worship, our life…. It is truly a season of receiving gifts and giving gifts.

I am reminded of a Christmas card which someone sent me a few years ago. It said:


The best gifts aren’t found in pretty paper under the tree…

I can’t unwrap a box of your happy laughter or welcoming smiles.

And your steady shoulder and helping hands don’t need

fancy ribbons or sparkly bows.

Thank you for the gifts of your friendship.

How did you know they’d be just what I needed.

So as this New Year breaks in, let us enthusiastically join in the ongoing divine “gift-exchange” with God, for the blessing and healing of this world that God so loves.


Blessing to you O gifted and gifting ones



(ps. May I invite you into the guided meditation on gifting found below)

A Guided Visualization Meditation called  The Gift.


                        The Gift

              By Joyce Rupp

(abridged and submitted by me)


Find a quiet spot to be alone,

Sit with your back straight, feet on the floor.

Begin with taking some deep breaths and letting them out slowly.

Ask the Spirit of God to open your being, to quiet you…

Picture the scene of the Three Wise Ones (Matthew 2:1-12) coming to offer homage and gifts to Jesus, the One sent by God…

See yourself as one of the Wise Ones…

You are coming to offer a gift…

There is a wonderfully wrapped gift in your hands…

Inside the gift are aspects and qualities of your life that you most enjoy and appreciate.

  Reflect on these aspects and qualities:

Which ones are especially significant for you?

Which ones have been most apparent during the past year?

Which ones have seemed hidden or absent during the past year?

Now gather these qualities of your life into your gift.

Visualize yourself coming and presenting your gift-wrapped package…

As you offer this gift of yourself, see the love, joy, delight with which your gift is


Visualize a gift being offered to you. It, too, is beautifully wrapped.

It has a note-card on it, a special message from Jesus to you.

Imagine what is written on the note-card…

Receive the gift, open it, and ponder its significance for your life…

 (after pondering, end this reflective time with seven deep breaths – letting them out slowly – and a prayer of gratitude for what you have received and what you have been able to offer.)