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It was two Christmas Eve’s ago, a beautiful night, cold with just a dusting of snow. The service was amazing–incredible choir, wonderful music and liturgy. It truly was a blessed evening welcoming the birth of our Lord. After the hugs and goodbyes shared as we were leaving church, our music director, Mary, stopped me and handed me an envelope and said “Someone asked me to give this to you.” I thanked her and moved on to my car. Having been at Holy Comforter for a while, I was looking forward to opening a lovely, festive greeting card from one of the parishioners.
It had been a very difficult couple of years, with my spouse’s unemployment and me worrying way too much about finances. Mostly I kept those struggles to myself, but folks did know about the unemployment concerns.
Back at my car in the front parking lot of Holy Comforter, I opened the card and gasped. Inside was a very generous gift of cash and a lovely Christmas card with a handwritten, unsigned message. I stared at the money and read the message, and then I cried. Sitting in my car that cold Christmas Eve, I cried.
As I tell my story and reflect on that night I recall the emotions linked to those tears: joy, relief, surprise, and delight come to mind, but really, in that quiet moment, as the recipient of someone’s selfless giving, I experienced radical generosity.
After all, I have been ordained 33 years and have had the opportunity to offer and witness many moments of sincere and genuine generosity. But to receive a gift of radical generosity on that Holy Night took me to a different place. A place where I experienced a depth of love, a radical and self-giving love; that love that our Savior brings in his Incarnation. A love deep and wide and limitless and self-giving was brought to me at that moment as I opened the envelope.
It was an amazing gift, certainly a favorite Christmas gift of all time because in the opening of that envelope I got it!
It was a spark, a flame burning deep inside. It was the fire of the abundance of love Christ offers each and every moment of my life–each and every moment of all our lives–every day.
The prophet Isaiah is one of our Scriptural companions on this journey through Advent 2018. In Isaiah 43, he tells us: “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Walter Brueggemann in his book of Advent devotions, Celebrating Abundance, says: “The newness that God wrought at Christmas was sending into the world this Jesus who is beyond our imagination, who brought healing and grace everywhere he went, who forgave and transformed and called people out beyond themselves to a newness they could not have imagined.”
“I am doing a new thing.”
For this radical act of generosity I am truly grateful this Advent 2018.
Sandy Grundy has been a priest in the diocese for 33 years and is a spiritual director. She is a priest associate at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Broomfield where she is thrilled to facilitate the Bible Study and Centering Prayer groups.