Matt W.C. Joy

G n’ R

In Uncategorized on 02/12/2009 at 11:50 pm

Warning: if any of you got to this point thinking I was gonna blog about Guns N’ Roses…I apologize and laugh inside.

Now that I got that off my chest, off to a lesson I received in giving n’ receiving:

Originator of much commentary that was counter to his (and our) culture,  Jesus once said something profound that we tend to toss around so much the meaning may get a little lost.  The statement is that, “it is better to give than to receive” Acts 20:35.    We especially get to encounter this truth in this season of ‘materialism on steroids’…be it at Mass, Christmas productions, one on one coffee chatter, or internal analysis of our own greed/crave for more, we hear the message of these words repeatedly or at least I’d like to think we do.

My parents were great at not just giving good advice, but demonstrating it with their lives.  They once taught me the give/receive lesson in a way that I won’t soon forget.   It was in my last full year of living under their roof as a dependent that they chose to put Jesus’ counterculture philosophy to action and, intentionally or unintentionally, leave a indelible mark on their son’s life!  It was Christmas week and I had finished up my official internship at Cornerstone Ministry Centre (Cornerstone on FB) in the downtown of St. John’s.  Knowing that this internship had an incredible life-changing impact on me, my parents felt to give to me in a different way that Christmas.

That week, leading up to our own lavish gift giving and receiving,  they presented me with a wad of cash.  Cash that I knew was a sacrifice!  I counted it quickly and my memory tells me it was either $240 or $260.  Now no young adult is going to reluctantly embrace a wad of ‘queens’, so I didn’t buck any trend and I held it in my hands with my mind racing.  As mom was giving it though, she offered a dream of theirs.  They wanted me to take this money and find practical ways to bless people that I had encountered in my time working downtown.   Just recounting this story as i type is awesome…that I would be the recipient of such teaching.  While, I didn’t grasp the learning process and the lasting impact of that initiative in that moment, I was so excited that they resourced me and commissioned me to that kind of action!

I took the money and my 1992 Mazda Protege (subject of another blog potentially called, ‘When Dad buys you a lemon’), and began to drive to the heart of the city.  After much thought and some prayer,  I bought some food and gift certificates  and delivered them to a variety of people/situations, including a single man with drug addictions and a family of Russians new to our city.  With the rest of the money, I envisioned a plan and went to the John Howard Society House that was home to male offenders transitioning back into the community.  The plan was to throw a Christmas pizza party for all of the guys staying there (along with the staff) in hopes of it providing an escape from the sense of sadness that the holidays away from family must bring.  Thankfully the staff thought it was a great idea, and I filled the order and made the delivery!

Mom and Dad may never grasp what they taught me or gave to me that day, but it was one of the greatest teaching tools from the ‘classroom of life’ that I have encountered.  It’s amazing how much this ‘giving and receiving’ truth is now played out practically as a dad. I really couldn’t care less about what may or may not have my name on it under the tree this year (although my bro-in-law’s hints have peaked my interest:)).  But, as a dad, I was so stoked to drop into toys r us on Tuesday and pick up the HOME DEPOT deluxe workshop for Kendrick from Santa (p.s. Santa owes me some money).  Putting a smile on my son’s face and seeing the joy he will have playing with this toy will again make Jesus’ truth re: giving come to life in a different way.

It is December 3…take the next 3 weeks and test this truth.  Creatively and intentionally impact the life of another  and encounter the heart of Christmas again – or perhaps for the first time.

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