The Goose Is Getting Fat
By John Bonney of Springfield, OR, USA
All shall give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. —Deuteronomy 16:17 NRSV
“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Please to put a penny in an old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do. If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!”
So goes an old Christmas song from England. In societies where consumerism and Christmas sales garner a huge portion of people’s attention, the words of the song suggest another way to spend money. To me it says, “Give attention to those who have less as you plan your celebrations.” Giving to those in need is central to the message of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
The story of Jesus tells us that if we are attending to the needs of the world’s vulnerable people, then God’s blessing will follow. Salvation is not a goal, but a result. Salvation is a gift—a Christmas gift. As we serve others, we become aware of our blessings. Service is the response to the salvation offered. “Just as you did it to one of the least of these…you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
If you haven’t even got a half penny, then God bless you. I have no rancor because I think someone has not given me my due. If you have no half penny for my hat, if you haven’t any way to meet the needs of the disenfranchised, I still say, “God bless you.” Once we have done whatever we can to meet a need, it becomes futile to beat oneself or tilt at the windmill further. Let’s leave something to the wisdom of Creation in the way that Creation takes care of all matters—Creation’s way, in Creation’s time.
Prayer for Peace
Generous Creator, how wise and understanding you are to accept our humble gifts. May we always choose to be as generous as we can, and know our offerings are acceptable and welcome. May the world accept our offerings of peace.
Spiritual Practice: Growing a Gracious, Generous Heart
Open your heart to God’s grace and generosity with a “breath prayer.” Let your breathing slow and deepen. Be aware of God’s breath moving in and out of your heart. Spend several minutes focusing on breathing in God’s generosity. With each breath, silently name one gift for which you are thankful. Let your heart expand to contain God’s gracious outpouring of love. With each breath out, name one gift you want to share.
Today, God, if I have no overflowing bank account, I will give from my overflowing heart.