Headlines from First Thoughts

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Impressions

Ann Henderson is a faithful member; we just don't see her at church.
She watches us by television and lives at Shannondale retirement off
Middlebrook Pike. A couple of weeks ago, I dropped by to say hello to
Ann. She get a lot of frequent contact from Matthew and Amy Evans as
part of our Deacon homebound team, but I also enjoy catching up with
folks I don't always see in the pew. Like so many at Christmas time,
Ann had a surprise for me.

During our visit we chatted a bit. I shared a few nuggets of church
life; she asked about my family. Then she reached down and said,
"Pastor, my sister wanted to know if there were some people that I
wanted to remember this Christmas season; and you're one of them. Here
are some homemade peach preserves." I went by to give Ann the gift of
presence, and she surprised me with an unexpected gift.

This season is the time for the unplanned gifts. We plan, we shop, we
wrap, and the calendar turns to a new year and a new decade. We look
forward to what we're going to accomplish, look back at last year's
memories, and worry about the unknowns that lie ahead. Along the way
in January though, after the presents are unwrapped, the real gifts
arrive. These are the venues for the bright ideas and epiphanies that
give you a spiritual "a-ha" moment. They happen when strangers wander
into life, your body gives you an extra hour of sleep, the dreaded
activity becomes a memory, or a moment of service becomes a time of

I am not sure what will spark, but I do know that they come when we
are around the kind of people we find in the epiphany season:
foreigners, shepherds, mothers, fathers, babies, and worshipers. Wise
men and television viewers seem to know that best. So, Ann, here is a
very large scale thank you note for the peach preserves. And to all
who stand at the corridor of a new decade, I hope you've left some
time for an unplanned gift.

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