You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
After the explosions at the Boston Marathon, one eyewitness recalled, “We gave the runners money so they could get on the T when it worked again. We gave them our coats. ‘How will I give it back to you?’ one runner asked as she shrugged on a dark green fleece. ‘You don’t need to. You never need to,’ a man next to me told her.”
Even in our most vulnerable moments, it is hard to know how to accept another’s generosity. In The Gift, Lewis Hyde distinguishes between a commercial economy, where the purpose of gifts is to make exchanges, and a gift economy, where the purpose of gifts is to create community.
Hyde laments, “When exchange no longer connects one person to another, when the spirit of the gift is absent, then increase does not appear between gift partners, usury appears between debtors and creditors.”
The economy of the gospel is a gift economy, not a commercial one. God “masks” his love for us in gifts that he gives, but he calls us to seek his face, not his hands — to seek a relationship, not a transaction.
The greatest gift we can receive is God’s presence, not his presents — or, as the psalmist declares, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”
Lord, expel our thinking that we are debtors and you are our creditor. Ingrain in our hearts that you say to us, “You don’t need to pay me back. You never need to.” That is our only hope because, indeed, we cannot pay you back. Instead of making an exchange with us, you have given us a gift. You have cloaked us in Christ. We, in turn, share that gift with others out of an overflow of your love. Amen.
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org