The National UCC puts out a Daily Devotional each day, a short meditation about something relevant or interesting. Some days are better than others, and I forgive that, because it’s only a few writers who provide a thought for 365 days a year. Today, December 16, it was written by Martin Copenhaver, who had some things to say about a paperweight he made for his parents as child, and they loved it because it was made by him, and by extension, God doesn’t need our gifts, but delights in our worship and love when we give it freely. You can read the whole thing here: http://www.ucc.org/feed-your-spirit/daily-devotional/what-can-you-give-to-the-god.html.
Seriously, Martin? The Bible seems to be explicit about what God wants from us. Micah 6:8 is a pretty good Christmas List: do justice, love kindness or mercy, walk humbly with God. God probably doesn’t need or want our homemade paperweights, but standing up for the little guy, helping at and donating to our favorite charities, fighting for what is right, loving our neighbor in tangible ways, those are the gifts that God gladly receives. As a parent, those things that I love most are the times my kid is independent and strong or picks a bug off the sidewalk to move it to the grass where it’s safer. I delight in her growing up and becoming her own person.
Maybe when you were a child, God gladly would delight in your crappy paperweight of simple worship and devotion, but when you are an adult, that paperweight isn’t really so cute. When you’re a grown-up, it’s time to have a grown up faith. When you’re a grown up, you can acknowledge God with your hands and your work, you can “preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words (St. Francis of Assisi).” When you are an adult, God demands more of you.
God’s only hands in this world are our hands. God’s delight doesn’t seem to be in our simple devotion, but in the re-gifting of what we have been given, or in using those gifts for greater purpose. My talented atheist friends show me that it probably doesn’t matter to God where our gifts come from, or that God is acknowledged, but only that we share those gifts with the world.