“Is my two front teeth, my two front teeth.” Most of us can recall that song being sung in Christmases past, the song was novel yet none of us really asked for two front teeth. We wanted toys, new clothes, whatever the latest craze was at that time. They were often great Christmases, yet something tells me that they were not in most ways life changing or even giving.
Each year people worry about what to get other people for their gifts. They want a perfect gift, or at least to know that what they give matters to the person they gave it to, including those who give to us. If we are honest, there are always gifts we never open, or use, where we ask, “What were they thinking?” Perhaps it is because at times we do not wish to let people know what we want, and at other times our desires are just not realistic, or reasonable.
Every year the church has given me TJ Maxx, or restaurant, gift cards for Christmas. These have been the most tangible gifts of gratitude I have received. I am grateful for those gifts as they have kept me in clothes and I have enjoyed many good meals. These gifts have assisted more than myself and Brian, they have clothed persons when they needed help, feeding those who needed a nice meal when they had no other way to celebrate a special day.
And yet, these gifts cards, and things we have received are not the things that I crave the most. I crave things that will bring glory to God, praise to Jesus, and an opening for the Holy Spirit to move. Things, and actions, that place each person in our faith family in the movement of power and promise in all areas of their lives.
I am not asking for world peace, though that would be nice. Not more gift cards, though that is appreciated. Not an end to hunger, even if that is a goal of God. Not an end to disease and death, though they are hard and break hearts. What I want for Christmas is what I think God wants from us.
What I most want is a church filled with broken people who passionately engage their faith, serve their God and fellow believers. A people who understand that how they live, breath and embrace God in the world will affect everything else they do. To embrace that when we bow our heads and raise our hands we do it because of what we know, not just how we feel. To testify to what Grace and Mercy have done for us. A community that feeds its faith with prayer, and humbly serves, gives sacrificially, and invites everyone they know to experience the same things we have. A team focused on being the best they can be, rather than thinking that the American Dream is somehow Godly.
In the end, if these things do not happen, will Gift Cards and nice words mean less. Every pastor I know looks at everyone’s, and the church they pastor, potential rather than his or her problems. We can all find problems, but are we truly looking for potential? Covenant of the Cross is here to connect God’s supply to human need. That takes more than giving God a gift card to end war. It takes commitment, passion, focus, and engagement.
The God we claim hopes for a gift of passion from those who need and can give healing and hope to a broken world. This month, will you give what God wants, or make excuses about how little time you had to shop? If God opened up the gift you gave would he be saying: “What were they thinking?” My prayer and hope is that he gets excited as you give him exactly what he hoped for!