Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

The Gift Received

Many years ago, my mother’s family drew names on Thanksgiving for our annual Christmas gift exchange. Names were recorded on pieces of paper of those willing to participate, and the spending limits were established. It was entertaining to witness the facial expressions as each family member glanced at the name printed on the piece of paper that had been just drawn from the basket. Immediately after the drawing the process began of secretly figuring out the best gift for each recipient.

This one particular year I drew cousin Turdy’s name. Turdy was her nickname; and if you had known her, it was for obvious reasons. Believe it or not, I was excited to get Turdy’s name. I had graduated from Bradley, had a real job, and was willing to spend over the limit to purchase an impressive gift. After putting a lot of thought into what I would buy, I went to a department store in Peoria to make my purchase. I wrapped it up with nice paper and a bow, and eagerly anticipated the day we got together for our gift exchange at one of my aunt’s homes. You can imagine my excitement as Turdy received her gift from under the tree. She shook it a little to see if it would rattle and then began to unwrap it. As she opened the box, instead of having a look of delight, her face fell. I was crushed. She didn’t even seem to notice that I spent much more that I should have. The excitement for my gift vanished.

Gift giving can be perilous endeavor. When we gift a gift, something of ourselves is invested into it. A gift often reflects our own personalities, tastes, and preferences. When our gift is rejected, then we feel rejected as well.

I must admit that I am not the best gift giver. But the one thing I have tried to be is a good gift receiver. I realize that a lot of thought goes into the gift giving process; and even the sending of a simple card can take a lot of effort. Getting it purchased, signed, and mailed takes more work than I can often accomplish. I once had a drawer full of cards, that I purchased with the intention of getting them sent out, but failed to do so. Thus, I appreciate anyone’s willingness to get a card sent out or a gift given. I was told early in ministry to graciously receive all gifts that are given. That has always been a challenge for me since I was taught to say, “No thank you,” no matter how badly I wanted to say “Yes, please.” Receiving a gift is allowing someone to do ministry. To reject a gift, shuts the process down, and might even hinder further offers of outreach into the future. Offering a gift is the offering of oneself. To say no is to reject that person.

God has given himself to us in the giving of Jesus Christ. It was very costly for God to allow his Son to go to the cross. We cannot fathom the amount of love that God has for us in order for him to sacrifice his Son. Jesus was given for the salvation of all; and yet, so many people in the world have rejected this gift. To reject his gift is to reject God. My, how it must hurt God to have people reject the gift of his Son!

If Turdy had understood the significance of what it meant for me to give her that Christmas present, maybe she would have had a different reaction. Maybe if the world would have a greater understanding of what God has done for them, they would appreciate it more and receive Jesus into their lives. God loves a cheerful giver; and in order to make the process complete, we must receive with cheerful hearts as well.


9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684