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This week we began our season of intention and preparation, readying ourselves for the celebration of all that Christmas means. We began this season, so often eclipsed by and consumed with the culture of gifts, by exploring the nature of gift giving. At a deeper level, beyond questions of spending and simplicity, we opened ourselves to the unresolvable paradox of gift, and found in this tension one of the ways in which God is born in the world.
This week we began a new series about Advent, where each week we will be discussing aspects of this hopeful time of year. This past Sunday we considered how the nature of gifts and gift-giving shapes both ourselves and our understanding of the divine.
We opened by considering how we live in a system of means and ends. Every action we take is for a purpose, either unspoken or spoken, that demands a result. However, we reflected on how God and life should not be treated as a means to an end, as this takes away from the beauty of these ideas. What we are searching for is a 'pure gift,' one that is not asking anything in return. But we considered how, in our consumerist society, this pure gift cannot exist. Instead, it insists. While the pure gift does not quite exist, it makes itself felt. We all long for this pure gift to exist, something given without hidden motives. The pure gift weighs down on us, encouraging us to try and give as closely to a pure gift as we can. In this way, we inhabit the distance between the impossibility of the pure gift and the reality of giving.
We the reflected on how this understanding of the pure gift fits into our season of Advent. God, love, the unconditional, overrides this means-to-an-end economy, even though this economy of consumerism is the very place where Immanual comes. This paradox between the unconditional and reality, the desire of the pure gift and the need for gifts, is the ache we are invited to experience.
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
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