God’s generous gift

December 11, 2018 by Rob Hagan

Above the main entrance to the University of Queensland in Australia, these words are engraved in stone: “Great is truth and mighty above all things.” That’s something you might guess would be on the door threshold of a University.

Rob Hagan
Rev. Dr. Rob Hagan

My alma mater is the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. Engraved in the emblem of the university is Moses kneeling at the burning bush depicted the “holy moment” of revelation of truth from God. Advent means we steward the time of reflection and revelation and concentration.

The more I concentrate on the birth of Christ, the deeper the reflection and revelation on how generous our God is to us. Someone said Advent means we have soft-eyes. In her book entitled “Grateful,” Diana Butler Bass helps define soft-eyes.



The term comes from martial arts and refers to an awareness that reaches toward the periphery, the edge of what we usually see. The Quaker author Park Palmer writes, “Soft yes, it seems to be, is an evocative image for what happens when we gaze on sacred reality. Now our eyes are open and receptive, able to take in the greatness of the world and the grace of great things.” Having narrow eyes is just the opposite of soft ones. If our hearts are not full of generosity with soft-eyes and the perspective of the “grace of great things” our eyes become narrow and miss what God is doing on the edges of our lives. (Pages 65-66.)

Soft-eyes is a great term for stewardship and legacy giving. We see the “grace of great(er)” things than our life and not just the end. For many of us it is the end of life but not the end of our story. This is the truth of our lives in Christ. We see things differently. The child in the manger is not only an infant but a king; not only a human being but the second person of the Trinity; not only needed to care for but whom reciprocally cares for us all. Grace of Great Things! As we gaze on the infant everything changes.

The Luck of Roaring Camp,” a short story by Bret Harte, talks a mining town in California filled with hard living and hard drinking miners. The local town “lady of the evening” died while giving birth. Which miner knew how to take care of an infant? Not one.

The miners did know a baby needed a crib. They unpacked a sock drawer and put the little one in the makeshift manger. After a hard day digging coal, all of them would check on the baby. But as they lifted the baby they noticed their dirty hands caked with coal dust. So they scrubbed their hands clean. They all chipped in and bought a crib from the Sears and Roebuck catalogue and when delivered they placed the baby in it and put it in the saloon, so all could watch and hear the cooing. Yet, in the corner where the baby was placed it was drab. Paint was slapped on the walls and curtains hung. All took turns holding the baby, cradling it and gazing on it.

The shouting and yelling that had given the camp its name also stopped. The baby needed sleep, and the men walked around speaking in whispers. Instead of angry shouts, the music of gentle songs filled the air. Strange new feelings of peace and happiness came into the hearts of the miners of Roaring Camp. The baby changed everything!

Stewardship of gazing this Advent season is a legacy gift we want to leave ourselves and our family. Soft-eyes rather than narrow eyes is the generous gift from God and see the “grace of great things.”