Opening Your Gift

20 12 2012

Last year, something very strange happened at my house at Christmas. The house was decked out with Christmas lights. Our tree was full and shining with all kinds of sentimental ornaments saying things like baby’s first Christmas. Decorations that my wife and I have collected over 12 years of marriage were distributed throughout the house. And the gifts, oh my, the piles of gifts, to my kids from us, from my parents and from my in-laws. It was like one of family scenes you only see in paintings.

Here’s where our story takes an interesting turn. When it came time to have the kids open their gifts, we couldn’t get them to stop what they were doing to come to the tree. My son was off in another room coloring Christmas pages while my daughter used glitter glue. “Kids, do you want to open presents?” I asked. “No, we’re busy right now,” they’d reply. This went on until bed, so we skipped presents that day.

This story keeps getting stranger as the next day the kids woke up and went right back to being busy. “Do you guys want to open your gifts now?” I’d ask. “No thanks,” they’d reply, heading off to do more Christmas crafts. This pattern continued as the kids kept busy doing Christmas things but never stopped to take the time to open the gifts my wife and I, my parents and her parents had bought and wrapped up for them. Would you believe that this continued for a week before the kids finally stopped doing Christmas crafts and took the time to open their gifts?

You shouldn’t. That whole story is made up. At the first mention of gifts my kids ran into the room to figure out who was going to open presents first and which gift it would be. Waiting wasn’t even a possibility, they couldn’t want to see what their parents and grandparents had gotten for them. You see, even though my kids are young, they know that Mommy and Daddy are going to give them good gifts, and so are the Grandmas and Grandpas. They know when a gift is there for them, they are going to be blessed.

So what inspired me to make up this story? In some ways it really wasn’t made up, the names and stories were just changed to protect the guilty. You see, it’s a story that I see happen nearly every Christmas with worship and tech people in the church. We spend a month or two working long hours and running around crazy with the fun things of Christmas. And they are good things! Our mission of proclaiming Christ’s birth to those only open to hearing about it at Christmas and Easter is a critical one. But often times, I see us get so wrapped up in doing Christmas that we forget to stop for a few moments and unwrap the gifts God has for us. For me. For you. I find at Christmas that we often keep ourselves so busy that we miss the very gift God has for us.

The goal and mission of the church at Christmas is a good one, and one that I’ve been honored to serve multiple churches with over the past 15 years. But it’s scary to me to think back to how many of those Christmas’ I’ve sort of put God’s gift of peace, rest, family and love on hold until I was done doing Christmas. It breaks my heart to see worship and production folks dread Christmas and celebrate when it’s all over so they can finally go home and open their gifts. Most of all I can only imagine what God thinks and feels when he keeps asking us to come sit down for a few moments to open the good gifts He has for us and we tell Him, “Not now, I’m busy.”

In the midst of the great work we all are doing to proclaim the Gospel, let’s all commit to taking moments to go sit with our Father to open the gifts He has for us. I need this reminder this Christmas, and frankly often throughout the year, and I’m guessing that you could use it too. I want to be like a little kid, super excited to be with my Father and open the gifts He’s lovingly prepared for me. We are so thankful for your faithfulness in serving your community, and I know without a doubt God will honor the sacrifices that you’ve made to serve him. But I sincerely hope and pray this Christmas season that when your Father calls you to tell you it’s time to open His gifts, that you’ll joyfully drop everything you’re doing and run into the arms of your Father. He gives great gifts. Take the time to open one.

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