by John Armstrong
I love Christmas, I love celebrating the coming of the Lord Jesus. I love listening to Christmas music, and all that goes with the season, particularly joining together with family and friends to celebrate and enjoy fellowship. I’m particularly disappointed this year that as a family, we will not be hostingour annual Christmas “Bob” after the Christmas Eve service. It is probably best this year given the realities of Covid-19. We are not hosting the “Bob” because we will be out of town to be with family in Texas as we are anticipating the birth of our grand-daughter. However, I digress. Let’s think about Christmas a bit more. I’m not going to talk so much about the incarnation of Jesus although that is the main point of why we celebrate Christmas, (listen to the advent series that I’m preaching for more on the incarnation). As Christians we can never let the incarnation leave our thoughts as we talk about how we celebrate Christmas, but for the moment, in this short pondering, I would like to address something far more trivial. How are you doing on your Christmas gift list? I am very well aware that for some of you that is not a trivial concern, it is a major issue. I’m not interested in passing judgment on whether or not your gift list is a big deal toyou or not. As the Teaching Elder of the church, I realize we are in a season of giving, when people are going to be giving gifts and I am one who fully participates in the giving of gifts. I don’t like getting gifts for people just to get the “x” in the block. I have some criterion for gifts. Ideally, I will get a gift that they actually want or one that they will find useful. Some of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten were things I wouldn’t have thought of, but I’ve found very useful. So, I need to know who I’m getting the gift for and think about who they are and what their needs and wants are. I would like to get a gift that will be around for a long time. I have gifts that were given to me decades ago and I’m still using them. I think we all probably want to give gifts that are going to be appreciated and enjoyed. We want to give gifts that say I love you and care about you. Now, bear with me as I shift gears a bit because I am going somewhere with this.What is the church to be doing? As Christians we are to love the Lord our God and our neighbor as ourself. Very simply that translates as we are to whole heartedly worship God, we are to reach out with the love of Christ to non-believers (outreach), and we are to share the love of Christ with believers (nurture). How might that impact your gift giving this year? Now, I’m being serious about this, this is not a “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine” moment. How might you, in love, reach out to unbelievers with a gift? How can you encourage believers with a gift? We have some options for your consideration on the Book Table in the Narthex. Particularly, we have some wonderful books for children. So let me encourage you to consider taking a look at the Book Table with your gift list in mind. If you don’t find something there, but are still interested in the book option for someone, let me know and I’m happy to help you find something appropriate for a believer or a non-
believer. Just so you know, all ESV Bibles are 50% off at Westminster Books if you are looking to gift a Bible.So in the end, has this Pastor’s Pondering been one big infomercial? Maybe. (In my defense, at no time did I say, “but wait, there is more”). I’ve written to try to give you something practical, something I hope will make your Christmas gift giving a little easier. At the same time, I want us as a congregation to take advantage of the Book Table, it is put there and maintained by the Committee on Discipleship Ministry with your growth in grace in mind. As Christmas rapidly approaches, may the Lord richly bless you with health, peace, and growth in grace.