This Sunday, when we are renewing our baptisms, it is a good time to thank God for the gift of the life and renew our commitment to living out of gratitude for that gift.

Professor Hans Hoekendijk taught at Union Seminary in New York City. Before and during World War II, he lived in Amsterdam where he and his friends hid Jewish children from the Nazis.

Their efforts were eventually discovered. As a result, Hoekendijk and his friends were locked in a railroad car and shipped off to a death camp in Germany. One morning the train suddenly stopped. The doors were opened. The prisoners were told to climb out and lined up alongside the railroad tracks. They assumed they were in Germany.

They thought they were going to be shot, but they were in Switzerland. Someone had thrown a switch and now they were free. For the rest of his life, Hoekendijk never found out who this person was, the one who threw the switch and saved his life. But he spent the rest of his life asking, “What do you do with such a gift?”

What do you do with such a gift?

This is a good question with which to begin this New Year. For it is indeed a gift, this life, this year, this day, this gathering, this moment. It is a gift from God. So what do we do with such a gift? How about this:

Live in the moment. Cherish it. Hug your children. Kiss your partner. Tell your loved ones how precious they are. Thank them for who they are. Let them know what they mean to you. Speak from your heart. Don’t wait another day. Forgive as well as be forgiven. Gather in love and grace with those closest to you.

Taste the falling snow on your tongue. Be thankful for the gift of life. Dance! Dedicate your life to that which is most important, most meaningful. Help gather others together in love and grace.

And never, never forget to be thankful to the one who gave you the gift of life.

Your friend and fellow minister,

Rev. Steve Savides

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