This year, for my little brother’s 26th birthday, I gave him a toilet. 

In past years, I have searched high and low for the perfect pair of shoes, the well fitted dress shirt, the DVD he’s been longing for, or the latest gadget he’s coveted. 

But this year, I put a roll of toilet paper in a beautiful gift bag, and I gave him a toilet.  I bought him one of the toilets for a Habitat for Humanity House that my church sponsored in Memphis. 

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says to his followers: what good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or, asks Jesus, what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  + Matthew 16:26

Jesus is talking about things that are of this world, verses things that are beyond this world. 

Sometimes it is easy for all of us to get lost in our desire for things: that perfect pair of shoes, that well fitted dress shirt, the latest DVD or gadget we covet but when we are lost in these desires, we miss out on the grace and abundance and love BEYOND the things of this world. 

When I gave my brother a toilet for his birthday, I also gave shelter and refuge and security and grace to a family in Memphis.  These gifts cannot be seen or touched - these were gifts that went beyond all that we can grasp in this world.  And my brother LOVED this gift. 

The Gospel message in Matthew speaks to all of us about not holding on to the things of this world, but striving to grasp all that is beyond this world, all that belongs to God: like refuge, shelter, and grace. 

May the gifts we give in the world, model the generous, abundant gifts God freely gives to us all.


Thanks to superstar pastor Rev. Sarah Taylor Peck for sharing her thoughts on our word for November (and December!): Gift.  And, thanks to Michael Fawcett (we totally didn't make that up!) for capturing some public toilet humor in Otorohanga, New Zealand.