I have received many gifts in my lifetime, but none quite as unusual as the gifts my friends and I received on an Orphan’s Heart mission trip to Uganda. A jackfruit, a huge bunch of bananas and a chicken. A live chicken.
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. Part of our 10-member team went to visit the home of one of the sponsored children. The rest of us remained at the guest house making preparations for the upcoming Christmas party. The soundtrack to our work was a combination of Christmas carols and squeals of laughter from the group of children playing outside. They were taking turns pulling each other on a huge banana leaf.
After a few hours, the group returned from the home visit. They were not empty handed. They shared with us the gifts the family had given them, a huge jackfruit, a huge bunch of bananas and a nervous chicken. We knew that getting such gifts from the people of the village was a possibility and that it was customary and even a sign of respect to accept the gifts gratefully. We all laughed and took pictures until one of the team members told us about the chicken. This wasn’t just any old chicken. This was the family’s Christmas chicken, the one they had been fattening up for their Christmas dinner. My eyes stung with tears at the realization. How could they give us such a sacrificial gift? We have so much, they have so little. Then we learned that said chicken would be our lunch the following day. My initial reaction was “No! I can’t possibly eat the chicken. That was supposed to be their Christmas dinner. I can’t do it”. As I thought about it, I realized that I had to partake of their sacrificial gift. If I didn’t, it would be a waste, it would be like telling this precious family that gave so much “I don’t care about your gift, I don’t want it.” What a slap in the face that would be.
We are about to celebrate the giving of the greatest gift in the history of the world, the birth of Jesus Christ. God gave his very best when he sent his only son to be born of a virgin that Christmas night some 2,000 years ago. It was a sacrificial gift, a precious gift, a world-changing gift. Yet, many disdain the gift. Maybe not verbally, but certainly with actions. I wonder, is God’s heart pierced by our indifference to the gift he so lovingly gave when he gave us Jesus. May it never be so.
Many gifts will be exchanged in the next few days. Some will be prized. Some may be strange, like a live chicken or a jackfruit. In the midst of all the festivities, please don’t forget the greatest gift of all. Accept it (him), partake of it (him). I know I will. Sometimes it takes something as simple as a chicken to remind me.
Now, thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15