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‘The Ultimate Gift’

The ultimate gift doesn't come in a box.

“The Ultimate Gift” is about vulnerability and loss. That makes it a good movie to watch during this Stay-Home-Stay-Safe time.


Superintendent, Midwest District

In 2008, I watched a film that made a deep impression on my life.  It’s called The Ultimate Gift.  The story begins with James Garner, who is cast as Red Stevens, struggling to record a video. The next scene shows a large group of people gathered at his funeral, followed by the reading of his will.

Red’s grandson, Jason, who has a more negative attitude than the rest of his family, shows up late to the funeral and the reading which followed. Instead of money or part of the business holdings, Jason receives the promise of a gift. Throughout the rest of the film, Jason is given a series of tasks to complete. In a video conversation Red has with Jason, we learn a lot more about the relationship between grandfather and grandson, and just how precious our lives are. 

No spoilers here. I invite you to watch the movie and learn how a man’s life is changed because he becomes vulnerable and lost to discover who he really is. These two words: vulnerability and loss have new meaning for us today as we live through this pandemic. 

We have become increasingly aware of our vulnerability. We may be physically vulnerable because we are more susceptible to the devastating complications of the virus. We are definitely economically vulnerable as some who were employed one day found themselves without income with little or no advance notice. We are socially vulnerable, as each of us realizes how much we rely on being with one another.  Our children may be educationally vulnerable, especially those who don’t have access to computers or the internet.

In some way, we are all grieving. Much what we used to do and how we used to do it is suspended, or possibly even gone. I miss the places I used to go to be with others. I can no longer sit at Panera Bread or Barnes and Noble with a cup of hot tea and read a good book. Going to the movies and reviewing the merits of the film with my son are on hold. And of course, I miss worshiping in fellowship with others. Church is truly about the people and our journey together as servants of the Risen Christ. 

We are uncomfortable with being here. Most of us are fiercely independent, self-reliant, and determined. We are living in a time and in a way not of our choosing, and we are still resistant. Being encouraged to stay home and stay safe goes against our very nature. We may be turning inward, rather than upward. 

Our Lord offers us the ultimate gift of His steadfast love. Our Lord knows our struggles, our concerns, and our fears. God is with us always.  Our faith is the enduring bond we have with our Creator as we journey through this pandemic. Amid their vulnerability, Esther, the Centurion, and a hemorrhaging woman reached out to the Lord, with the enduring faith that God would be with them. And God was, just as God is with us now. 

This is a certainty. The God who created us also sustains us, and prepares a way for us. I close with the words of Matthew 11: 28-30:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And Amen.