Today is Cyber-Monday; and if you believe the folks who study such things, millions of us will be spending billions of dollars as we snap up deals for ourselves and others. As a result, there’s plenty that could be said about the commercialization of the holiday season in general…and about our unquenchable addiction to “more stuff” in particular. But I feel like today’s New Testament lesson (1 Peter 1:1-12) invites us to turn our attention away from our frantic quest for bargains and toward the deal that no amount of bargain-seeking or online-shopping can provide.
In the opening of his first epistle, the Apostle Peter reminds us of the gift we’ve been given:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Let’s notice a few key features of this gift. It can’t be bought or earned — because it comes through the mercy of God. It never gets outdated…or requires batteries or repair — because it can never perish, spoil or fade. And we never need to fear that we might miss out on this gift — because it’s being kept in God’s presence — and we’re being protected by God’s power — until the day of “The Grand Unwrapping” finally arrives.
Of course, as Peter goes on to point out, life might not always make us feel like we’re the recipients of such an incredible gift: “Now — for a little while — you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials,” he says (verse 6). But even these, Peter says, can purify us. And even in the midst of trials and hardships, “you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (verse 9).
I don’t know what you might be shopping for today. But before we go filling up our cart, may we pause to reflect on the gift that we’ve been given; and may the riches of God’s mercy remind us that we’re called to share God’s gifts with others.