Last week, as staff, we had our annual Christmas luncheon at a local restaurant. It is your annual gift to us, Bethel. Thank you! It is a highlight for us.
Each year after our lunch, it is our tradition to deliver Christmas Cards and chocolates to our Church’s nearest neighbours. It is our way of saying “thank you” to them for being patient with the activity of our busy church and our parking along their streets.
Though most people are away at work when we call on them, every fifth house or so a person will actually open the door when we ring. Usually people are courteous to us. Once in a in a very great while someone will be rude. Former pastor Bill Tuininga had a funny experience, once, which he handled with grace. As he came to the door a man growled: “No junk mail!” Bill returned, “You don’t want junk mail, but how about some junk food?” The man laughed, and accepted the gift.
I noticed something this year I had not noticed before. When I said to those answering the door: “Merry Christmas from Bethel Church,” and gave them the gift, people had little reaction. It struck me that they might have even been a tad suspicious - like the gift might be a gimmick to get them to come to church. But then I would continue, “This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for putting up with us all year. You have been patient with our parking in front of your house, and we appreciate you.” It was at that point, people would inevitably break into a smile, and say something like, “Oh, it’s no problem at all. Glad to do it.”
I think this reaction by our neighbours illustrates an important principle. Sometimes Christians try to witness from a position of strength - as, if to say: “I’m doing this for you so that you will be impressed with how I am behaving.” However unintended, this puts the focus on us, and this is not right. Our witness should always point away from us to Christ. The spirit of Christ is to be humble. When we are humble we serve without self-consciousness and are able to acknowledge how others have enriched us even as we have enriched them. –Pastor Tom
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