Rye Congregational Church
Celebrating God’s Love “In the Heart of Rye Since 1726”
Biblical • Traditional • Independent
Sunday Services at 10 a.m.
Welcome to Rye Congregational Church
Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
~ Luke 1:11
They say that’s where it all started, this gift-giving tradition that has overtaken the world for centuries every Christmas season. I think it was the right thing to do, for them and for us, and yet our relationship with the giving and receiving of gifts changes over the years. It starts out for most of us with unbridled greed and excitement. From those first couple of Christmases characterized by sensory overload and sugar, and the kisses from aunts and “attaboys” from uncles – from all that emerges expectations of what it might be next year if we plan ahead and somehow harness all this good will toward men. Make a list and write a letter to Santa. Wait in line in the big department store tell him yourself what you need – needs are what they seem like, though in reality they are merely wants.
Wanting something badly enough makes it a need, I guess, as those first couple of Christmases seem to teach us. And this Santa character – it takes a couple more years to get that out of our system and face one of life’s first great disappointments. But it’s when Jesus comes into focus that Christmas and the gifts that come with it start to take on a deeper meaning. It’s usually when most of us experience the joy of giving something for the first time. A pair of pliers or a tie for Dad, a bottle of perfume for Mom, a pencil case for “big sis,” and a bouncy ball for “little bro.” Even at such a young age, we can begin to see and feel the joy of giving – greater than that of receiving, Mom says, and the pastor too. The smartest ones among us learn this quickly enough to pretend being overjoyed and excited at the reception of a new pair of socks from big sis and a crayon drawing of Santa from little bro. We learn to give and receive with grace and kindness. In truth, a lot is being taught and learned by everyone – we’re all taking in the lessons as we grow and mature, and that process never really stops as long as we live.
And then there’s that Little Drummer Boy. Remember his gift? He simply “played well” for Him, for Jesus. “Then He smiled at me,” the Little Drummer Boy said. Playing well, or “playing nice,” we might say. Kindness, Respect, Patience, and Love – wonderful gifts found in abundance at the Manger of Bethlehem. Free to all to give and receive, as much as we need, for the day, the season, the rest of our lives.
Kindness, Respect, Patience, and Love. Pa-Ra-Pa-Pum-Pum. May we all play well for Him this Christmas, and may He smile upon us all.
Merry Christmas! … In God’s Love,
(The Preacher in the Rye)