Do you recall your favorite Christmas gift from your childhood?
You know, I asked myself that same question in writing this. And while I can pick out some remarkable gifts that my parents and grandparents gave me, what I remember the most was the time we had together.
The first gift is the joy of seeing my grandparents open the door as we arrived from a long road trip from North Carolina to Florida. Then there was the gift of silence from the rest of the world’s busyness on just one day where no one needed you for anything, allowing you to be present. Oh, the gift of smelling that unique blend of Christmas coffee, fresh bacon, and cinnamon rolls.
The gift of presence is one of the most remarkable things God has given us by being relational creatures.
The season of Advent draws us together as a faith community, reminding us that God has given us the gift of each other, the gift of the church.
Recently, at the Thanksgiving Gathering, participants were invited to consider why they are grateful for UBC. Writing this down on a leaf tag, placing it on a Tree of Gratitude, here are just some of the responses people gave as to why they are grateful for our church:
The People. The Friendships. People Who Give Unconditionally Without Hesitation. Laughter. Generous Spirit. Great Relationships. The Nomad Class. The Serenity of Community. New Friendships. God’s Faithfulness Through Our Church. Spiritual Formation Classes. Inclusion. Open-Mindedness. New Friendships. Tanya Parks. Eric Fulcher. Justin Langford. Andy Hale. The Ministers’ Families. For Those Unable to Join Us In Person. Diversity of Viewpoints. A Willingness to Challenge My Assumptions. Hospitality. Support. Acceptance. A Community That Takes Care of One Another. Faithfulness. Good Mentors. People Caring About My Life.
The church is the living incarnational presence of God in the world. What an extraordinary wonder!
May we celebrate and receive the gift of presence through the church.