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Everything is Gift – Pastor Josh Bower

 Advent and Christmas Greetings, Arcade UCC,

Many of us remember the feeling that we got when we were younger on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Christmas Eve brought anticipation – anticipation for gifts, for seeing family who would gather for the holiday, for being allowed to eat cookies for breakfast. And Christmas morning brought the realization of that anticipation. There were gifts under the tree and those exchanged among friends, there was, in my family, singing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning, then packing up the car and heading to see family we did not get to see that often, and of course, after all of that, eating cookies for breakfast.

I remember one Christmas when I was younger (and if there are any other 90’s kids reading this, you know how exciting this was for me), I woke on Christmas morning and found that Santa had left me a Gameboy under the tree! For those of us born in the 90’s, Gameboys were like the best toys ever. You could choose from a whole bunch of different games (Pokémon was my favorite) and as long as your four AA batteries didn’t run out, you could play videogames wherever you went! It was one of the best gifts I ever received on Christmas, and I played with it all the time. In the car, on the school bus, in my bedroom, everywhere I went, I took my Gameboy with me. As sad as it might be to say, I really did cherish that Gameboy.

As we once again approach another Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, children will be anticipating and waiting for gifts from Santa under the tree. And they will be so excited as they open whatever today’s modern-day equivalent of a Gameboy is (a Nintendo Switch maybe??) and cherish it and play with it all the time. But as I’m thinking of gifts, I’m reminded of a statement that was made during a bible study I led a few years ago: “Everything is gift.”

The implications of this statement are huge. What if we began to look at the things we consider mundane with the same anticipation and excitement as a child opening gifts on Christmas morning? What if we looked at all that we have, all that we are, as gift – a gift from God. Our talents and abilities, our jobs, our careers, our ministry, our family, our friends…all gifts from our Creator. What would our lives and our world look like if we viewed everything as gift? Would we become more grateful as individuals? Would division and strife decline as we began to see each other, all of humanity regardless of skin color, religion, or country of origin, as a gift to our world? Would justice and charity increase as those who are struggling with poverty, addiction, and homelessness are no longer stigmatized or marginalized, but are cherished as God’s gift? How would we view our ministry and our careers/jobs and our retirement if we viewed the talents and skills that we have as gifts from God?

This Christmas season, I would challenge all of us to try to see the gift within everything that we have and receive. I would like to think that if we do this, an attitude of gratitude would spread beyond us and to others as well, as we work together to further the message of the greatest gift of all, a baby born in Bethlehem, who would change the world forever.

I pray that you all have a happy, safe, and gratitude-filled Christmas season.

Blessings,

P. Josh