A Selfless Gift

There are two dates on the calendar when it is nearly impossible to get away when you are employed at a church: any given Sunday morning and Christmas. Ordinarily, this doesn’t cause a problem for me; I can think of no other place I’d rather be at both of those times. Corporate worship is an integral part of my life, and second to Easter— Christmas services are my favorite events on the church calendar.
But as December of 2013 drew near, I was caught between a rock and a hard place. My family was having a difficult time getting together on Christmas Eve as was our tradition, so plans were made to celebrate Christmas at my parents’ house on the Sunday prior to the holiday. Apparently, this date worked for everyone… except me. Although my father was a pastor and also busy that day, he was still open later on in the day. I was open later that day too, but because I had to lead the music that Sunday, I figured there would be no way to get transportation to my destination more than two hours away.
But all of that changed when one of my sisters called. She knew about my dilemma and the fact that I didn’t have a ride to our parents’ house. She felt it was important for me to participate in family Christmas, so on that Sunday morning, she and her husband drove up to my church in time for the morning service. They waited in my office until I was done leading worship, and then I met up with them to start our travels. We hadn’t told anyone else about our plans, so it was going to be a surprise for my parents, my two other sisters, and their significant others.
I distinctly remember driving into the parking lot at my dad’s church and parking outside the parsonage. “I think Karla just saw you,” Becca said, taking note of my sister looking out of the kitchen window. We came into the house to my sister’s exclamations of: “What are you doing here? How did you get here— with Becca? I thought you couldn’t make it?”
And then my mom appeared, and the exclamations started all over again! For the first time in a long time, I truly felt a wholeness with my family. Since I am the only one who lives at a distance from everyone else, it has always been hard for me to feel completely included. There has always been a bit of a separation over the years, and that day, I finally felt like I had filled a void.
My sister gave me a selfless gift that day— more valuable than money or any physical wrapped-up box. She sacrificed her time, money, and finances to make sure I was included in family Christmas. I have to say, it was probably the best Christmas I had celebrated in a long time. And to top it off, my sister joined us for Christmas Eve worship just two days later. Her beautiful voice and sweet spirit made the celebration of Christ’s birth so meaningful for all of us.
I hope you, my readers, have the opportunity to make special memories with your families and friends this Christmas. And if you could be so kind, please consider those who may not have a family to celebrate with this year. Invite them over for coffee or perhaps include them in your family festivities. Remember those in care facilities, single without family, or elderly and widowed. Reach out and make someone’s Christmas truly special. After being on the receiving end of my sister’s Christmas gift, I am actively seeking ways to give to others this Christmas. So thank you, Becca, for your example of selfless service.

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