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If you are anything like me, you tend to place yourself somewhere in the stories of Jesus. You picture yourself among those sitting on the hillside as Jesus breaks the bread and feeds the five thousand. Youre there, maybe even in the company of the disciples, as Jesus walks the sandy roads of Galilee, bringing sight to the blind, a steady gait to the lame. You might even see yourself standing at the foot of the cross of Calvary, one faithfully attendant even as others had taken flight.
And, you have probably had occasion to place yourself in the Nativity. You have come to take your place among those who have seen the star, or perhaps you have heard the angels singing, and you have come.
Now, quick, what do you have in your hands? I know you have something with you, for if you have ever engaged in this exercise, you know you have never shown up empty-handed.
Maybe you are carrying a sack of gingerbread men and a thermos full of hot chocolate. It had to be cold in that stable, and nothing warms both tummy and soul quite like cookies and cocoa.
Maybe youve brought a baby blanket, crafted by your own hand. You wanted to bring something nice, and nothing comforts a baby quite like the gentle feel of flannel.
Or maybe you have thoughtfully brought a nice scented candle. Ive got a Nativity scene or two or three, and they all seem to feature cows and sheep and camels. Something in a bayberry would be pleasant, I would think.
Im thinking sandwiches and coffee would be a good thing, especially after everybody got finished with passing the baby around and left a hungry and tired Mary and Joseph to care for their newborn. It would be nice not to have to find a way to prepare a meal.
The point is, each of us would want to show up with a gift, and we would want that gift to be something they could use.
Further, none of us would bring the gift simply because we thought it would be expected of us, like you probably have to do with a half a dozen relatives you can think of. No, you would bring the gift out of a compelling personal need to do so. You wouldnt be able to help yourself.
You know that to be true, because you know that is what you are already doing. The St. John Church is an incredibly healthy church, and its not because good fortune has chosen to shine upon us. Its because we are a church filled with people who love Jesus, and who cant help themselves from doing good things for him and in his name. Its really as simple as that.
It cant get any better than worshiping Jesus on his birthday. His greatest joy, I would think, would be the gift of yourself.
So, Ill see you Sunday, at 10 oclock this time.
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