Typically the best Christmas presents are found under a tree and opened first thing on Christmas morning. But not this year. This year the best gifts we received were on December 24th at 9:50am in Shelby Junior High. Let me explain . . .
Every Sunday an amazing group of folks help transform Shelby Junior High into The Eastside Vineyard Church. They are housewives and nurses and engineers and executives. They have full time jobs and busy lives but choose to volunteer their time to help make our church happen each and every Sunday. Without them, The Eastside Vineyard Church simply would not exist.
Around 10:00am every Sunday we have what has become known as “circle time” where all of our volunteers gather together and I welcome first-time volunteers, thank veteran volunteers, and give a sneak preview of my sermon. We end our circle time by praying and committing the day to the Lord.
Because people show up extra early to church on Christmas Eve, we decided to have circle time about 15 minutes earlier than normal, so everyone would be in place to welcome our early arriving guests.
So on December 24th our “circle time” began as it always did. And when I thought it was over, I didn’t realize it had only just begun.
One of our key volunteers said he had a few things to share. Speaking on behalf of the entire team he thanked Kellie and I for taking the leap of faith in launching the church. He thanked us for our sacrifice and dedication. He thanked us for our servant’s hearts. And he announced that the team chipped in and got us some things for Christmas.
As soon as Alan started sharing, tears filled my eyes and my bottom jaw started to shake. Because it was a beautiful reminder of the nature of the Kingdom of God.
It’s an upside-down Kingdom.
Kellie and I should have been the ones showering THEM with gifts. We should have been thanking THEM for THEIR sacrifice and dedication. We should have been thanking THEM for THEIR servant’s hearts. But instead it was the other way around.
And what they gave us blew us away…free babysitting coupons…an overnight stay at Best Western Sterling Inn & Indoor Water Park…a coupon for a Spa Mani-Pedi…cash for Erma’s frozen custard…and a STACK of gift cards: from amazon.com…and Blockbuster…and Costco…and Whole Foods…and AMC theater…and Pizzeria Uno…and Nick’s Country Oven.
On modern day calendars there is a “day” for practically everything. There is National Bird Day. National Donut Day. National Chocolate Ice Cream Day.
And there is Pastor Appreciation Day.
To be honest, I’m not sure what day that last one is supposed to fall on, but this year it fell on December 24th. I have never felt more appreciated as a pastor in my entire life.
***Join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. Start off the New Year the right way by going to church. My sermon will center on Matthew 8:18-22: The Cost of Following Jesus. This just “happened” to be the passage we landed on in our verse by verse look at the gospel of Matthew. It really is the perfect passage to unpack as we begin 2012. Sunday. January 1st. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***