I can remember as a child, how much we anticipated Christmas morning. There’s all this buzz and excitement from Thanksgiving on, and all you can think about is Christmas morning around the family Christmas tree. Of course you know, for a child the thought of all those presents glittering under the tree is almost too much. Its a magical sensory overload. 

I can’t remember ever giving a thought to what my parents were experiencing. What were they feeling/ Were they as excited as I was? Did they feel overwhelmed by all the anticipation? 

It seems to me, receiving and giving are two sides of the same coin. They live opposite of each other, and yet they are inextricably intertwined. You really can’t have one without the other. I would have to say, Christmas morning for the giver is as exciting and filled with awe as for the recipient. The giver stands apart and observes the emotions and joy those who receive exhibit. That display, that moment is a gift to the giver, as much or more than the gift the recipient receives. 

As we walk through our lives, we are at times on one end or the other of that spectrum of giving and receiving. Sometimes, as givers, we aren’t always privy to how the recipient experiences what we’ve given. We never know if it brought them joy, or a feeling of being loved, or a sense of peace, or if it quieted any anxieties they may have been going through prior to receiving our gift. 

When I worked for the telephone company, at the end of the day I could always point to some cable, or terminal, or splice enclosure, and say with pride that’s what I did today. Its like that for many jobs we do. We can point to a clean kitchen, or an empty laundry basket, or sparkling floors and say, “this is what I accomplished. There’s something very satisfying about that. Sometimes though, we give gifts of ourselves that we never are quite sure how they were received. We never know for certain if they accomplished what we hoped. We are just in the dark as to what impact our gift made on someone else. 

Its this way in ministry, many times. Especially in the United Methodist Church, where pastors are moved from church to church. We never know for sure if our gifts in ministry had any impact at all on the people we serve. 

I have to tell you, all of you brighten my life because you share with me how you feel about the gifts I give. It embarrasses me sometimes, partly because I enjoy hearing what you say, and partly because I realize that its not always for me to know the end result of every gift I share. 

In this Advent/Christmas season, as we wait and anticipate the greatest gift of all, I wonder how God feels? Does God feel appreciated and affirmed by the gift of Jesus? The intended impact of Jesus on the world hasn’t always been so easy to determine. We as the recipients go through ups and downs in our lives, and aren’t always so forthcoming to God about what God’s gift means to us. 

Maybe during this season, we might reflect on how best we can show God how the gift of Jesus has impacted us. Maybe by how we treat each other, God will stand back with a sense of joy and satisfaction that the gift actually had the impact God intended. Maybe when God sees our selfless giving, God will smile and feel as if all the preparations, all the struggles, all the sleepless times spent to ensure the perfect gift was given, it all has paid off. 

I hope and pray your Christmas season is one filled with joy, love, peace, and hope. We were created out of love, to love. We were given to, in order for us to give to give to others. Christmas isn’t really about one or the other, giving or getting. Its about both, and both have a far greater impact than we may ever know. 

Blessings and Peace,

Pastor Tom

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