culture of gifts

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There’s something peaceful about Epiphany.

Our trees are still up and I have yet to tuck away the decorations and find homes for all the new toys.   It’s our way of saying welcome to all that is new, please, make yourself at home and stay awhile.  It’s how we say that even though Christmas is over Christmas is still here.

This is the time to enjoy.

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Daddy has the annual voter’s meeting this afternoon.

I don’t go to voter’s meetings anymore.  It is neither my time nor my place and I am okay with that.  Our marriage is stronger when I am here and not involved there. I used to try to go.  When I was part of ladies Bible study, VBS, and on the local Lutheran high school board, I had to go.  I either asked one of the high school girls to come over for a few hours or I brought the kids with me and they played in the cry room.  Looking back I know it was all too much.  I didn’t need to do all that though it was never a matter of needing to but wanting to.  Being part of a congregation meant being involved and being with people.

But it couldn’t mean that for me.  For me it means separation.  It means being cut off and removed.  The gut honest truth is that my heart has been shattered because of it.  I have had to undergo painful change.  I’ve had to relearn what it means to be part of a church.  I have no idea what that means anymore.  I just know I’ve made mistakes trying to figure it out.

It’s so hard though sometimes.  I still wrestle with this sense of confusion in this culture so different from the church of my upbringing.  I have deeply missed the simple joy of Christian fellowship.   On Epiphany we went to church as a family to the circuit service and it was like I was in a completely different world.  Many other circuit pastors and their wives and children were there.  The circuit wives have always had a good relationship even though we don’t see each other nearly enough.  It was wonderful to see them all.  There were smiles and hugs and throwing our arms around each other and asking why in the world we cry alone when we know there are others struggling with us.

It felt like family.   It felt like friends.  It felt like church.

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But God is good and somehow in all the pain and deep loneliness there has always been the daily bread.  Where this culture may not be the familiar one of fellowship, relationship, and hospitality, we live among a generous and thoughtful culture of gift-giving.   Every home-grown tomato has been growing something in me.  Every card and gift welcoming our babies, every plate of home-baked cookies, every bag of Christmas gifts for our children, and yes, even the cardboard box on our porch full of leftover Christmas program paper bags of peanuts and even more candy has been a testament of God’s goodness and faithfulness to us.  He has provided.

For that I am forever grateful.

 

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