Dr. Anthony D. Baker Advent Meditation

Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5-8

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We owe our very existence to others, many whom we will never meet. Simply by being, we run up debts of gratitude: we live through what we owe to parents, friends, neighbors, strangers, plants, animals, and ultimately to God.

Through sin, this debt of gratitude turns ugly and violent: now we live not just by receiving, but by taking. As we compete for limited resources, we turn our back on one another, we turn our backs on God.

How can we repay either of these debts: what we owe to the cosmos for our very coming-to-be, or what we owe to the friends, strangers, and to the God whom we consistently disown?

Saint Anselm asks, “What could be more just, than that the one whose value exceeds every debt should abolish all human indebtedness?” His point, like the point Jesus makes in Matthew 10:8, is that the gift of the God-human dissolves any need or demand for filling out our end of the contract. The gift God has for us is infinitely beyond what we could ever pay off. So, God abolishes the structures of debt and institutes the new order of gift. “

Freely give, without a question of payment, because you have received gifts beyond what God owes you.” The invitation to wait for Christmas is an invitation to hope for a gift beyond all debt.


God, our very hope in you is a gift; so bind us to yourself that we may become a people who give freely, as you are a God who gives freely. In the name of Christ, the Given Son, Amen.

Dr. Anthony D. Baker
Clinton S. Quin Associate Professor of Systematic Theology