Christmas Presence

Perhaps you remember it.  Normally I do not remember commercials.  (Who does?)  But, this one was a grabber.  The spot was for Folger's coffee.  It is late at night; a young man comes home from an extended trip to Africa, I think.  Waiting up for him is his little sister.  He gives her a gift, but she doesn't open it.  Instead, she takes the bow from the gift, puts it on him and says, "You're my gift this year." 


I know how she feels.  Even though I have been a pastor in the region since '96, I didn't know most of you. I became better acquainted when I served on the ABCOFLASH Board, then on staff as a Region Resource Minister.  Today we are starting to get to know each other even better-what a gift!  Your presence is my present this year.  As I peel off the wrapping paper and get a better look inside such wonderful people, I feel like a child again.  The anticipation and absolute delight of discovering what's underneath the ribbons, paper and bows was worth the wait.  I spied the gifts under the tree, and the day for opening the presents finally came. 


Relationships take time, especially here in Southern California.  I drove a homeless man to a shelter a couple of years ago so that he could have a hot meal and a bed.  He was from Ohio and had traveled quite a bit.  He said that we in the Southland appeared friendly and nice at the beginning but were hard to get to know. I thought, "Yeah, we're like those beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, but with an admonition that says, 'Do not open until Christmas'." 
Sadly for some, Christmas never seems to come; the people around them never want to take the risk, to remove the wrapping and be known.  


For Christians, however, Christmas has come.  The little baby arrived, grew up, became a man, lived a perfect life, died a sinner's death, and rose again, just like He said He would.  He sent us His Holy Spirit, just like He said He would.  With the Spirit living inside of us, we can be open to one another, and to those seeking to know the better way of living.  Our wrapping paper is off; the gift of God living inside of us is exposed for all to see. 


"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Mathew 5:16


Humbled to be in the presence of such wonderful presents, 


Andy Quient

Acting Executive Minister

December 18th, 2017