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Giving and Receiving (05.01.22)

Giving and Receiving by Tosin Oladipo

Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Last year at Christmas I oversaw a project to pack and distribute boxes of Christmas treats to those in need. In response to the pandemic most of the homeless and vulnerably housed had been put up in hotels and B&Bs. The project took a lot of effort logistically, and the gifts themselves were mostly unremarkable. We bought and packed treats worth around a tenner into far too big boxes. Once packed and sealed we loaded the items onto trucks then dropped them off in batches at various locations where staff panicked about where to store them. It was impersonal and (most of the time literally) thankless.

Eventually we would receive messages of thanks, though, very rarely were they about the contents of the box - the sweets, chocolates, cans of fruit nuts, biscuits and (for the lucky few) pairs of gloves, or socks. The messages we received were to say: thank you for remembering me - for letting me know that I am not forgotten.

Reading: John 1:1-5,10-13

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.


Many presents are unwrapped at Christmas, but some it seems are truly received. Those are the best gifts of all. The ones that speak of personal connection, of understanding and of love. The act of giving becomes complete in receiving.

At this time of year, we celebrate the birth of a child who comes into the world small, helpless and unremarkable. This child is, however, the light of the world, a gift from God, and the reason we exchange gifts at Christmas. Jesus offers himself to us: the choice to receive him is entirely ours. The outcome of receiving him is life-transforming. It means receiving the priceless gift of personal connection with a loving God. At the heart of Christmas is gift - a message from God to the world, letting us know that we are not forgotten. Jesus who offers himself to all who will receive him, and in receiving lies the possibility of life in all its fullness.

In what way might you respond to the 'gift' of Jesus today

What do you hope and pray might be transformed this Christmas?

What can you do today to remind someone that they are not forgotten?

Joy has dawned upon the earth

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