April 14, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

In The Spirit

Pastor Dave Carpenter“If I Could Give
You a Giftâ€

OK, I know we are told, as we grow older and more mature, that the holidays are more about giving than receiving but what if that just, flat out, isn’t true? What if our children have had it right all along? You know, when you stop to think about it, in my tradition, if you exclude the three wise men (who didn’t even show up until weeks or months after the fact), the only one who gave anything to anyone that first Christmas morning was God, who gave an unparalleled gift to the entire world. What if the truth is this season was always supposed to be more about what we receive than what we give?
The more I give and the more I receive, the more I realize the only gifts that truly last are the priceless gifts that come directly from God (gifts like humility, trust, faith, joy, peace, Rabbi Morley Feinsteinforgiveness, compassion and hope). These are the gifts that don’t get old or run out of batteries; the kind of gifts that attach themselves to our lives and make a real difference in everything we think, everything we do, everything we are. These are the gifts that just get better and better the longer we have them and use them.
If I could give you anything this holiday season (if I could wrap it up in a box with fancy paper and a shiny bow so that you know how special it is) I would give you permission to be selfish this year; to be more concerned about the gifts you are receiving than the gifts you are giving. For if we manage to open up, try on and wear around the priceless gifts God longs to pour into our lives, they will not only be the best gifts we will receive, but will become the best gifts anyone in our life will receive as well as we BECOME the best gift we could ever hope to give. May God bless each of you richly in these holy and sacred days as we wait for hope to be reborn in our midst.

HOLIDAY MESSAGE FROM RABBI MORLEY FEINSTEIN, UNIVERSITY SYNAGOGUE

Why isn’t this world already perfect? The story is told of a young man who was depressed because there was so much pain and suffering in the world. He complained to his Rabbi, “Why did God make such a world? Even I can make a better world!†The Rabbi answered quietly: “That is exactly why God put you here – to make it a better world. Now go ahead and do your part.â€
We have to reach out beyond ourselves, and not let our imperfections trap us. There is something miraculous about human nature that rejects the setting of limits and fights restriction. Abraham Lincoln broke out of his poverty; Gandhi and Martin Luther King struggled against racial prejudice; Franklin Delano Roosevelt overcame the confines of his wheelchair; Beethoven created music despite his deafness; and without hearing or sight, Helen Keller touched people’s hearts.
These heroes prevailed over the obstacles that life placed before them. They trusted their God-given instincts and dared to believe that they could make a difference. Each changed the quality of his or her life, and in so doing became a model of inspiration for us. We can let our inexhaustible spirits and yearning souls burst forth at this holiday season with resolve and determination to make a better world in the new year.

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