2014 10 December

Giving for Christmas – Moderator Gary Paterson

Posted in Steinbach United

-Moderator Gary Paterson…..

I often feel whiplash in the Christmas season… how to celebrate and be joy filled, but not get caught up in the “Christmas machine,” particularly as I walk through the shiny malls with my gift list in hand. I want to give and be generous, to watch family faces light up with delight; but I don’t want to just buy “stuff” that no one really needs; and even more, I want to be responsible, and faithful, and not get too caught up in the allure of our consumer culture. Yes, sometimes I’ve been able to make gifts that are thoughtful and meaningful, but other years – like this one – well, I’ve been on the go pretty much non-stop, and time is in short supply.


Indigenous Language Revitalization[Indigenous Language Revitalization]

My attention was caught by a recent announcement from Pope Francis that he is going to auction off many of the gifts he has received in a great Christmas raffle, and all the money raised will go to assist the poor. Buy a ticket for 10 euros, and you’re in the running for a Papal Fiat, bicycle, coffee maker, camera, silver picture frame, or a Homero Ortega Panama hat, with dozens of belts and briefcases as consolation prizes. I can just imagine how many Christmas stockings will include such a ticket.


Our Place, Victoria, BC[Our Place, Victoria, BC]

I’m not sure how we ever find a balance in our gift giving, but once again I know that I will be turning to our United Church’s giving catalogue, Gifts with Vision. Last year, everyone in my family received a catalogue in their Christmas stocking, with a “gift of money” that they could give to whatever project they chose from Gifts with Vision. We had fun reading about all the different possibilities; pondering our decisions; and then knowing that this Christmas, in a small way, we had made a difference.

As I look through this year’s catalogue I recognize people, places, and actions that I have encountered in my time as Moderator. I have talked to First Nations peoples about their vision of reclaiming their languages, and met a young man in Bella Coola who shared how difficult and yet how wonderful it was to learn his native tongue. I have spent time in Colombia and know how desperate life can be for the country’s five million displaced people (the world’s highest level of displacement until the catastrophe unfolding in Syria and Iraq), and I saw firsthand how our partner, the Colombian Methodist Church, is trying to respond. I ate lunch at Saint Columba House in Montreal; had a tour of Our Place in downtown Victoria; and have spent time at First United in Vancouver. I’ve had conversation with the new General Secretary of the Student Christian Movement, Rick Garland, at the SCM booth that was present at last August’s  youth and young adult event, Rendez-vous, and I know how important it is to maintain a progressive Christian presence on campus.


Student Christian Movement[Student Christian Movement]

I know what important work our church is doing, across the country, around the globe. So I have no hesitation in saying, as you think about your gift list, think Gifts with Vision.





Gary Paterson | December 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Tags: AboriginalChristmasColombian