Eric Law on The Gift

From chapter three, “The Gift,” in Holy Currency Exchange: 101 Stories, Songs, Actions, and Visions for Missional and Sustainable Ministries by Eric H.F. Law:

Holy_Currency_Exchange_cover_finalRE_400At the beginning of the new year, I often hear people say with a sigh of relief, “Thank God the holidays are over!” I recall seeing frantic shoppers before Christmas trying to find the right presents for people to whom they are obligated to give gifts. If gift giving is reduced to an obligation and is measured as a commodity, I can understand how it would be a relief to be done with it until the next birthday or anniversary or Christmas.

In his now-classic book, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, author Lewis Hyde shares stories from different cultures around the concept of exchanging gifts. He writes

These stories present gift exchange as a companion to transformation, a sort of guardian or marker or catalyst. It is also the case that a gift may be the actual agent of change, the bearer of new life. In the simplest examples, gifts carry an identity with them, and to accept the gift amounts to incorporating the new identity.

According to Hyde, there are at least three obligations to gift economy—the obligation to give, the obligation to accept, and the obligation to reciprocate. In many of the cultural stories that Hyde examined, the reciprocation may not go directly back to the original giver but to a third party. Sometimes the gift is expected to keep flowing throughout the community and it may eventually return to the original giver in different forms. Hyde wrote, “[A] gift that cannot be given away ceases to be a gift. The spirit of a gift is kept alive by its constant donation.”

For Christians, one of the greatest gifts that we receive is Jesus. To accept this gift is to incorporate a new identity embodied by the words and actions of Jesus. Continue reading Eric Law on The Gift

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.

What Is a “Holy Currency Exchange”? Eric Law Explains

From the Preface to Holy Currency Exchange by Eric H.F. Law:

LawEric_Web-smallOne way to get attention on the Internet is to string words together that are not commonly used in everyday language. This technique works because people can find you simply by typing these unlikely couplings of words into a search engine, such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. It has been about two years since the book Holy Currencies was published. I had been using the term “Holy Currencies” for about three years before that in my blog, The Sustainist, and in workshops I have given across the United States and Canada. When I Google “holy currencies” today, I discover pages and pages of references to this two-word phrase, the majority of these references directly connected to me, the Kaleidoscope Institute, and the book. I was also pleasantly surprised to read sermons, study guides, articles on missional ministries, success stories of missional programs, gracious invitations, diagrams, stewardship addresses, and stewardship packets based on the cycle of blessings model as presented in Holy Currencies.

The words “holy” and “currencies” do not usually go together, and that is precisely why I put them together—perhaps initially for shock value, which invites people to pay attention. Combining these two words also challenges our assumptions about what is holy and what is currency. The reason we don’t think these two words belong together is that most people don’t think currencies (referring to money) can be holy.

The Greek word for “holy” is ἅγιος (hagios), which means set apart for (or by) God. The word implies that the thing, person, or place that is holy is different from the world because it reflects the likeness of the nature of God. defines “currency” as “something that is in circulation as a medium of exchange.” Notice that the word “money” is not part of this definition. Money is just one of many media of exchange. In Holy Currencies, I proposed that a missional and sustainable ministry must have the dynamic exchanges of six currencies—Money, Time/Place, Gracious Leadership, Relationship, Truth, and Wellness. These currencies by themselves are not necessarily holy. In fact, they can be exchanged for many destructive actions that individuals and systems can do to people and our environment. For these currencies to be holy, they must resemble the likeness of the nature of God. We must utilize these currencies in ways that follow the pattern of God’s will and action. …

Eric Law: It is our choice to make our resources holy by exchanging them ... Click To Tweet

We all have resources—time, place, leadership, relationship, truth, wellness, and money. What makes these resources holy is a dynamic process of exchanging them to empower the cycle of blessings that sustains communities. This book captures real life stories of these holy currency exchanges, most of which emerged out of Christian communities. Some of these stories are not specifically Christian, but I consider them holy because they follow the divine patterns of holy currency exchange.

This book also offers innovative ideas for holy currency exchanges—some of which have never been tried. These ideas are dreams or visions of what can happen if we dare to follow the divine pattern of holy currency exchange. Some stories and ideas are local, in the sense that they address how to use resources locally. Other stories and ideas are global, addressing broader concerns, such as the wellness and truth of the environment, and of national and international communities. Along the way, I provide songs and poems to open your minds, hearts, and spirits to live into the cycle of blessings.

“Holy” and “currencies” may not go together in our minds initially. It is our choice to make our resources holy by exchanging them for things that are of God’s will. What resources are you setting aside to make holy? What stories can you tell about how you have practiced the cycle of blessings?

Download the rest of this free preview of Holy Currency Exchange

RSVP now for the livestream conversation with Eric Law, Jacqui Lewis, and YOU and your questions on Tuesday, January 26 at 1pm CT:

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.