Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Presentation of (all) the Gifts

So, yesterday, in summary:


Talk about heart burn! (Yes, that is supposed to be a human heart, courtesy of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And the horns are nice, too.)

In Christianity, we conceive of things slightly differently. We, too, make an offering of gifts to God, and we do so out of a sense of our fundamental indebtedness to God. It's a gesture of worship and thanksgiving -- in fact, we call our prayer "a sacrifice of praise".

But it's not just bread and wine we're offering. No, those elements also represent all the fruits of the earth, all the work of our hands -- that is, all that God has given and all that we are striving to do. Presenting the gifts entails offering all that we have and are to God, to be blessed by Him, sanctified and used for the kingdom. It's the first step in the liturgy of the eucharist, whose ultimate goal is the presence of Christ not only in transubstantiated bread and wine, but in our transformed hearts.

In a song, this is our prayer at the presentation: "All of me/Why not take all of me/Can't you see/I'm no good without you."

So, one thing to do during the prayers over the gifts is to consider what gifts of your own (or of the community) -- skills, experiences, relationships -- are you most aware of right now and want to be thankful for? Or, what gifts am I asking God to bless and guide today? Or just to imagine your whole self -- your quirky charms, your ambivalent relationships, your sagging waistline, all of it -- being lifted up to God.

It's the other half of the petitions, in a way -- there we offered up our needs. Here we offer up our blessings.

What has filled my bowl?

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