a sermon given on 14 December 2008 by Reverend Gail Seavey of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Tennessee.
Many of our beloved holiday stories tell of simple people with few worldly goods wondering what to give those they love: stories of little brothers making trains and balls for their brothers and sisters, of little girls giving handfuls of red flowers, of drummer boys giving their song, of shepherds giving sheep, of Wise Men giving balms to ease the pains of birth and of death. They each give a different presents, but they are all gifts of the heart.
Each Christmas Eve for the last 37 years, my mother takes twelve stoneware flat bottomed bowls out of the cupboard that I made when I was in art school. She ladles oyster stew in them to serve for dinner. Those bowls were gifts of the heart. I was not a good potter. The first stage of throwing the bowls was the hardest for me to do – centering the mound of clay on the potters’ wheel. But the difficulties did not end there. Flat bottomed bowls are much more difficult than round bottomed bowls to make. If the bottom is not perfectly even, they crack while drying or when fired in the kiln. Twelve matching bowls took a great deal of persistence for me the complete. This gift to my mother, from a student who had nothing else to give, were received with such grace by being made part of the annual Christmas ritual, has been a great gift to me.