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Posted: January 3, 2013 8:47 p.m.

McCoy: The basic essentials

"Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?" [Jesus] replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.
Matthew 22:36-40 (Common English Bible)

"Socks and underwear? Again?" These thoughts rang through my head as I was a little girl opening gifts on Christmas morning. You see, regardless of how many toys were under the tree, I would wait to open the gifts from my favorite Grandmother last. I thought that she must not have understood this whole idea of presents at Christmas.

My Grandmother was born in 1901 and had lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression and several other "Skirmishes" that the country called "Campaigns" but were really wars. She had seen the coming and going of many presidents, many governors, many TV anchors, including her favorite Walter Cronkite. She had seen the invention of the telephone, television and automobile in her lifetime. She had watched as women had gained the right to smoke, the right to drink, the right to vote, the ability to drive and the right to have a career outside of the home.

Yes, my Grandmother was a remarkable woman with a rich history and a full life. So how was it that when it came to Christmas presents, she couldn't get it right? Why did we always get socks and underwear?

The years have come and gone, and I have forgotten most of the gifts I got for Christmas through the years, but I have never forgotten the socks and underwear she would give us every year. Why is that? The most dreaded gift for a kid has become a rock-solid staple for me now as I carry on the tradition of my Grandmother.

I think I finally understand. It has something to do with words that Jesus said to a young lawyer. Jesus reminded the young man that while there were many rules and regulations to be followed in life, the greatest commandments could be summarized in two short phrases: love God first and best and love others as much as you love yourself. These, Jesus would say, are the basics. It's like the socks and underwear of the presents under the tree. All of the other things are nice, but the basics are essential - loving God first and best, and loving others.

I think my Grandmother was wise beyond her years, and certainly beyond mine. And I want to grow up to be just like her. She knew that toys would break before the day was over, fads would fade within a few months, and material possessions would soon be lost or forgotten, but that the basics of life are the things you hold on to. Jesus knew that, too. The basics are what get us through the year - through the day to day stuff of life. Loving God first and best, and loving others are the two essentials that we need to hold onto every day to live a quality and meaningful life. Like socks and underwear, these are our basic daily needs that just make our lives run better.
So, next year, I am asking for socks and underwear. What about you?

Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at jan.mccoy@ngumc.net.

 

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