Randy's Reflections
December 2, 2019, 4:36 PM

Pastor Randy's December Reflection


Gifts of God

         

I am a bit cold, so the hot chocolate in my cup (that I have my fingers wrapped around) is not only delicious but also warming to my body. My soul is content for the moment. I am looking forward to the coming of the Christmas season. It seems fitting that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas; it prepares us for the coming season where gifts abound not only to be received, for which we are grateful, but to give to others as well.

As I have grown older, my needs and desires seem to have become more simple. In fact, I am thinking more about what I can give than what I can get. I have already been given so much: health, family, faith, and salvation.

There are certainly times when I have aches and pains and some slowness in getting up, especially after just getting down. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by good hospitals and doctors. Our community has a plethora of health care professionals who are concerned about our whole health - not just minor aches and pains, but the whole person - body, mind and soul.

Even though we have no children or grandchildren in the same state where we live, they are less than a thousand miles (a two hour flight) to the north and a four hour flight (not quite 1,800 miles) to the east. There is a great community surrounding us. We are grateful for good friends in the church in which we serve and some friends from long times past still close by - we have family here.

I have been nurtured in faith from a young age, and I am challenged, in a good way, as I disciple and am discipled by those around me. I have some great books on my shelves that I have read, or am reading, as well as experiences with other believers as we talk about living out our faith in the challenging context of the Bay Area.

Perhaps the most precious gift I have is that of the relationship I don’t fully understand with a power outside of myself, a person who speaks hope to me in the darkest times.  At certain times it almost feels like I am the only who has his undivided attention. I feel so grateful, but then I realize there are myriad others who experience this precious communion as well. I remember that we are partners in this great experience of walking on this earth. And of course there is the promise that there is more than this beautiful creation in which I am embraced, but an eternity which promises to be something beyond our wildest imaginings.

So, what gifts have you received over the years? Are there things for which you long? Safety, stability, and a promise of a fulfilling future? This Advent we will explore the gifts God has given us and is still giving us. God has provided us with a faith, belief in something greater than ourselves of which we will be reminded on the first Sunday of Advent. On the second Sunday of Advent, God will turn our mundane existence into a glorious night, when we glimpse again the pageant of the

nativity acted out with hands, feet, and voices smaller than our own. On the third Sunday of Advent,  Music Sunday, we will listen with our ears, use our voices to proclaim, and feel the vibration of the musical pieces selected to celebrate the hope we have been given this season.

None of this would be celebrated if the love God has for us had not been brought down to earth in that baby who would become the great I AM. This fourth Sunday will be the last one before that great day when we celebrate his birth. His birth ushered in a joy that is still resounding throughout all the earth, both high in the heavens and around the earth below.

These are the true gifts of God for us: faith, glory, hope, love, and joy. They may elude us at times, but they are promised to us through the Prophets, in the Psalms, in the Writings, and throughout the Gospels, all of which speak of God’s desire to be our Lord and our King through Jesus.

I look forward to seeing you this Christmas season. Please make time to join us one or two Sundays and certainly on Christmas Eve as we gather together and give thanks to the One who heals all, serves all, and offers to save all.

 

Merry Christmas to all,

 

Pastor Randy