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[image: norma desmond]

As many of you know this was the first Christmas since the tragic death of my brother-in-law, Brian.  The family continues to covet your prayer and amazing spirit of support from all corners of our diverse communities.

Needless to say this Christmas was different, but as the family begins to live through the transitions and realities of a new reality without Brian, this uncharted waters was something to move through.  We continue to grieve as we always will and each person will feel the effects and handle them differently, but how we move through these times I believe give glimpses of how we may be in the long run.

In the midst of all of this, there is a face of generosity that has emerged for me in new ways: a grateful, comforting and transforming generosity of Spirit.

We used to always tease Brian for the seemingly disproportionate "value" of the gifts he would give.  He would give a printer, we would give a picture drawn our kids.  He would give some amazing trip to Asia and we would give some rock we thought looked like Elvis*.  In the midst of years of teasing, there was never any resentment, because at the heart of Brian's gift giving was a DEEP generosity that came with no strings, no judgment, just a very real response to the blessings in his life that he wanted to share with the family, his community and yes, often times the stranger.  As over the top as they might have been at times, his generosity was fitting for his personality and his deep gratitude for God in his life.

This year a different kind of generosity was needed and I think will always be needed, not just in our family, but for a world that is hurting in so many ways.  As I walk through the holidays with new lenses on the day, I was moved by the emotional and spiritual generosity that allowed for folks to be real, a generosity grounded in overall thankfulness, a generosity that allowed us to rest in the unspoken nature of family, a generosity that I hope inspires hope, healing and new life.

Our world needs us to engage in a life of this kind of grateful generosity if we are going to experience and inspire some moments of peace in such a complex and hurting world.  As people of Christ, we must live truly as if we understand that our eternal lives have been gifted to us for a reason.  Like Brian's gifts, this generosity is not to be lived in order to elicit obligatory gestures of gratitude, but quite the opposite, we must respond to the blessings of God in our lives so that each of us and the world may be internally transformed and healed in ways that lead towards external expressions of grace.

The world is full of pain, brokenness and suffering.  And while we need to be in those places as long as we need to be there, ultimately our God is a God of hope, new life and healing.  Those moments of grace will come differently for each person, but I do rest in the assurance that some day, that day will come.  And when it does, this grateful generosity becomes real again and again and again and the world is transformed.

Thanks be to God.

*He never gave anyone a trip to Asia, but I cannot with certainty say that we never gifted a rock that we felt looked like Elvis or some other celebrity 😉

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