IN RETROSPECT Unwrap the Gifts
By Jim Fogle-Miller, Director,
Conference Council on Ministries Leader Development
Christmas is almost here. Soon carefully wrapped packages will be opened, and their contents revealed. There is something quite special about presents in opened boxes. Tissue paper, carefully folded back, displays gifts in an almost magical way.
Removing the gifts from their boxes, and putting them into daily use can be difficult. Its as if using the gifts too soon cheapens them. Perhaps we fear that using the gifts, dirtying or wearing them out, will dishonor the giver. Yet we really dishonor the giver when we never use the gifts received.
God has given us gifts that often remain in their boxes. To truly honor God with our spiritual gifts, we need to do more than simply thank God for them. We actually have to use them daily, and it may be harder than it looks.
Years of church tradition are wrapped, like tissue, around Gods gifts. Alone, each layer is flimsy. Together, the layers are quite strong. Trappings of ritual, like gaily colored ribbon, keep the tissue of tradition wrapped snugly around these boxed-up gifts. These are hard presents to unwrap, but unwrap them we must.
On writer suggested how to cut the ribbons and peel back the layers of tissue. James D. Anderson noted, "Only the individual can provide the will to stop and take a long hard look at the reality of the church culture." He also said that new models of ministry, like gifts newly opened, "must go hand in glove with a determined effort to create customs which are in support of the servanthood of faithful people in society."
Why unwrap the gifts God has given to all of us? The answer comes when we consider a paraphrase of John Wesleys historic question and the reply given to it.
"What may we reasonably expect to be Gods design in raising up the people called Methodists?" Wesley asked. They are one of Gods gifts to a hurting, needy world. Unwrapped, they will reform the world and spread scriptural and social holiness over all the lands.
Your Conference Council on Ministries exists to help you discover, unwrap and use the gifts God has given to both Florida United Methodists and their congregations. Staff members are working to create new customs of ministry in our ever-changing world and can assist churches in the areas of leadership, spiritual formation, education, youth ministries, missions and more.
Together we can honor the gifts God has given us and lead in reforming Florida by spreading holiness throughout the state.
To contact the Conference Council on Ministries team, call 1-800-282-8011 or visit the conference Web site.
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