The Gift that Keeps on Giving and Living

Bishop Peggy Johnson

I heard on the radio the other day a catchy slogan as part as a fund raising campaign for Fox Chase Cancer Center.  They are letting their would-be donors know that a gift to cancer research is a “gift that keeps on living.”  This is most likely a spin on the advertising slogan that we are used to hearing that says “the gift that keeps on giving.”  The origins of that slogan go back as far as the early phonograph machine, the 1925 RCA Victrola.  Others have picked it up through the years in their advertising.   Among them are: Coca Cola, Kodak cameras, flower stores that sell tulip bulbs, kitchen appliances, Hyundai cars, Chesterfield cigarettes, Avon cosmetics, ConocoPhillips (Petroleum oil) and even banks.    We like the idea that our gifts have a long and enduring quality about them.  We don’t want to give something that is opened quickly on Christmas morning and then stored away in a sock drawer or worse yet, thrown out with the used wrapping paper.

This is the season of giving. Christ came to earth as the ultimate gift of God’s love to the people of earth.  The wise men came to Bethlehem to offer rare and valuable gifts to the Christ Child.  We typically exchange gifts with loved ones and friends.  This business of gift giving has often obscured the true meaning of Christmas as it can escalate into over-indulgence and extravagance.   Many children are asked “what do you want for Christmas” and from an early age they are conditioned to seeing Christmas as a time of receiving.

Christmas should be above all else, a time of giving, giving to others out of love for Christ and especially for giving to those in need.  One of the best ways to give a gift that keeps on giving is to give to missions.  There are many opportunities to give to our wonderful United Methodist mission projects.  We have missions all over the world that provide education, medical care, agricultural training, and emergency relief to name a few.  That is a gift that keeps on giving as a gift to missions extends blessings in many ways.

We should also give the gift that keeps on living and that would be to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those in our communities and in the world.  John 1:4 declares “in him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of all people. “  As people come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ they have life eternal as well as the light of guidance and truthful living here on earth.  What greater gift could there be than the gift of life eternal?  I am sure there is nothing more we could ask for than life in heaven with Jesus.   Why is it that we don’t share our faith with people more?

The UMC has launched into a “Call to Action” program that is emphasizing the importance of increased church attendance, membership, small groups, mission involvement and mission giving.  None of this can happen unless people are invited and drawn into conversation about Christ. We Christians are the ones who are called to share our testimony.  This Christmas give to missions and make the world a better place here on earth.  This gift keeps on giving.  Don’t forget to give the gift of Christ by sharing your faith so that more people might know the joy of heaven.  This gift keeps on living!

By Bishop Peggy Johnson