Have you opened your Christmas gifts yet? Did you get what you wanted? Did you get something unexpected?
I hope that you did (or will, depending on when you read this). I truly hope that you will be surprised by joy in some gift this Christmas.
Here’s the proviso: it doesn’t have to be something from under a tree.
The gifts that we receive at Christmas are expressions of affection; of people with one another.
Our relationships, where love is present, remind us of relationship that we have with God. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams writes that this relationship is a gift, and that “what we need from God is more than just information.” Relationship surprises us by making us live in the emotional, not the logical, centres. It’s unexpected.
So this week I’m thinking of the unexpected gifts that come from relationship in my life.
Sometimes they’re obvious. For example, my godson hugs me every time he sees me – and every hug surprises me with joy.
Some are less obvious – but can be found when we are willing to see them. An example came in a note from one of the members of the AA group that meets at the church, after their family Christmas party. Part of the note read: “I was moved by the children running around the gym upstairs during the adult meeting. Children who will have sober and present parents this Christmas in part because moms and dads have a place to go when they want to get well.”
This note is most definitely a gift to the church; the community, not the building. It speaks to the relationship that we have; while all that we can offer is a hall rental and prayers, what we receive is this affirmation of such ministry occuring in our midst.
It was an unexpected note. An unexpected gift. A celebration of relationship.
This Christmas, I pray that we all delight in some unexpected gift that comes from our own relationships: with God, with our families, with our communities. May we be inspired by these gifts to be an unexpected gift to someone else.