"In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Dear Joyful Christmas gift receivers:
I want to tell you this month about one of the sweetest couples that you could possibly ever have known. Mabel and Gerald were simple folks that met at a church social way back in 1924. It was love at first sight. From that day on, these two people were inseparable, marrying just ten months later. At their wedding, a distant, richer relative gave them a gift of a 19th century cut crystal punch bowl and setting of matching glasses. This poor couple knew this was an expensive gift that should be used only on special occasions, so they boxed it carefully in wrappings and put it away on the bottom shelf of their pantry.
Well as life tends to happen, time passed. They became proud parents, not just once or twice but three times. But at each gathering of the family to celebrate the child’s birth they didn’t get the punch bowl out because they didn’t want it to break with all the kids around. In the years of the great depression, they kept it boxed up and hidden away in fear that someone would see this expensive glassware and steal it. When World War II came along, the two boys were sent to Europe to fight in the army, and their only daughter agreed to marry a sailor heading to the South Pacific. Covered by that dark cloud of war and with the boys gone, they didn’t feel it appropriate to get that punch bowl out for her wedding, so it stayed packed away on the bottom shelf. Years later, now as grandparents and great grandparents the family surprised them with a joyful 50th wedding anniversary party, but the punch bowl never came out, because no one in the family knew about this long ago boxed up wedding gift.
A few years later Gerald died followed by Mabel three months later. When the family went in to clean out the house, there in the back of the pantry, still boxed and wrapped neatly away was this antique crystal punch bowl. Unwrapping it, the family saw that there was a note still affixed to the inside bottom of the bowl, that read, “Use this bowl with joy and happiness in the greatest of life celebrations.”
It was a gift that was never unwrapped, never put out, never used. How sad that they valued the gift so much they never really used it in joy and happiness. How many of us have great gifts given to us that we never unwrap, never make room for in our hearts or never allow to touch our lives? At Christmas the world is given the greatest of gifts by God in the babe in the manger. A gift that lifts up joy and happiness, because we know we are loved forever, redeemed as a child of God and given a place in the kingdom of God forever. And yet, so many box Jesus away, rewrapping him and hiding him away in the corner of their lives, thinking one day they might listen, follow, learn, or be changed by the wonderful gift of salvation and the good news of Jesus.
The gift is still being given and is being given again and again by the Holy Spirit. Now is the time, don’t box it away. May you open yourselves to it and allow the joy and happiness of knowing Christ to change your life this Christmas season and throughout the year to come. May you be open to Christ and be filled with joy and happiness now and forever.
In the Peace and Grace of God,
Pastor Kirk Griffin