(Rev. Dr. Wes Taylor pastors Tualatin United Methodist Church, 20200 S.W. Martinazzi Ave. For more information, call 503-692-1820.)
This is the season of the year when we are filled with thanksgiving, joyous appreciation and a particular openness to the giving of gifts. St. Paul, in his letter to the Church of Ephesus, reminds us of the importance to be thankful, helpful and compassionate.
Even though we are in the season of thankfulness and gift giving (and receiving), we are people troubled and in pain. There is a brokenness of spirit and soul that cuts deep into our well-being.
We believe we are too busy and too important to be compassionate and helpful. We are a people who want and want even more. We believe we are entitled to everything that catches our attention. We are a people embittered by a troubling war. May we learn again the gentleness of compassion and the value of caring deeply in empathy.
The story of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra who lived in the fourth century, is a model for us in our living today.
In the city of Myra, there lived a father and his three daughters. This family was quite poor, which made it almost impossible for the daughters to be married. It was the custom that when a daughter was to be married, the parents would gift the groom-to-be with a dowry. Bishop Nicholas heard of this, and late one night brought a bag of coins and tossed the money into the house and then quickly disappeared into the night. The daughter was married.
Some time later, Bishop Nicholas again secretly brought money for the second daughter to be married. Then again, some time later, he did the same for the youngest daughter.
However, some say the father this time caught Nicholas, but the saint begged that his gift giving be kept quiet. For a while it was, but finally the story was told and the power and promise of gift giving since that time has taken on even greater significance and meaning. We have come to know Bishop Nicholas and his example of giving, caring and compassion for one another.
There is an even greater challenge for us in this sacred season, and that is to learn even more about compassion and gift giving right here in our communities. For example, the number of persons/families that are hungry grows greater each passing year. Why not give a donation to the Oregon Food Bank or a local food pantry? But even more than a financial donation, give volunteer hours in the new year ahead.
One of the great joys in my life is the joy of giving time, talents and abilities to help make a true and genuine difference in the lives of others.
In our giving, may we be truly blessed now and throughout this sacred season.