Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
December 8th, 2021
“For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given!” Isaiah 9:6
Well, we are unquestionably in the Christmas season now: everywhere you go, you see festive lights, hear merry music, and see retailers vying for your holiday dollars. 🙂
A phrase I’ve heard a few times so far this season is “the perfect gift”. “Get her the perfect gift this Christmas.” “Still searching for the perfect gift?”, and, one I heard on the radio a couple of days ago: “Don’t let trying to find the perfect gift stress you out.”
Now: I am familiar with that feeling: the desire to get someone you love something thoughtful, useful, practical, yet sentimental… and as often as not you don’t know quite what it is. These companies are so happy to help! I for one find it amazing that they know the intimate details of my friendships and family relationships, that they would know just what I should get them! (cue a sarcastic tone here, if it wasn’t already obvious).
And I thought, Wow: nearly the entire society is preoccupied with getting something just right, and doing so quickly and conveniently – ideally, delivered right to your door. Minimum effort, maximum impact. Isn’t that the height of efficiency – something very desired in our society? Should it be applied to gift-giving?
But this elusive concept of the perfect gift seems to continue vexing us year after year. I believe the reason why the perfect gift is so elusive is because it doesn’t truly exist! Sure, many gifts are kind, thoughtful, do fill a real need in someone’s lives, but… perfect?
You may be able to sense where I am going with this: I find it ironic that we scurrying ants on this ball of a planet stress ourselves out trying to seek perfection in gift-giving, while lovingly overseeing it all is God, knowing that we cannot acquire the perfect gift for ourselves.
I see God saying “Don’t stress: I know just what you need! Let me provide you The Perfect Gift which will bring everything else into alignment & harmony.”
I hope that we as Christians don’t forget that we give in the understanding of having been given the greatest Gift of all: Jesus Christ, come to humanity, to love, serve & save. We are but imitating God’s generosity & love as we give to others during this season.
When society seeks to give without first pausing to be thankful to God for His greatest Gift, then the whole equation changes, and I believe stress is so much more easily attached to it, when it’s just “I need to give”, rather than “I’ve been given so much, how can I appreciate that, reflect that, pay it forward a bit?”
Obviously, all expressions of love, all generosity is good, but it’s only as we do it in the shadow of God’s much bigger Gift, that the whole Christmas holiday, and all its trappings, fall into place as a harmonious whole. That is what I pray for your and your families during this gift-buying season.
In these next few weeks, let’s focus first on having received so much more than we could ever give, and giving lovingly in the consequence of that. The love is far more important that the actual ‘things’ we exchange anyway. 🙂
May God bless you and your families the remainder of this week and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum