Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Long-lasting gifts…

For all the outsized passion and anxious anticipation I invested in Christmas as a child, I don’t remember many of the presents I received. There was the basketball hoop above the garage- that was cool. One year, my present was ski bindings. The year after, I got skis. After major concussions two consecutive years while skiing, my Christmas present was a top-of-the-line helmet. My mother put it this way, “We’re paying too much in college tuition for you to worry about looking cool on the slopes. I don’t care how much it costs; get the best helmet there is.” I still use that helmet, by the way, and haven’t had another concussion, yet. As a bonus, ski helmets have since become ‘cool skiing attire.’

Still, most Christmas gifts I received over the years weren’t especially memorable. Some new video game, piece of clothing, popular toy, whatever. All deeply desired and loudly lobbied for ahead of time. Of course. But over time, basically undifferentiated.

I wonder if that has something to do with the longevity of those gifts? I remember the b-ball hoop and skiing stuff because, well, I used them for a loooooong time. But I don’t play video games anymore (I was never good anyway). I’ve outgrown my old clothes and styles. I ate all the food gifts I was given, often that very day! It seems most of our childhood Christmas gifts weren’t really designed for longevity, were they? They provided joy for a time, reinforced our parents’ love, but weren’t typically built to last the decades.

As an adult, however, I prefer gifts I’ll use for a long time, or something that fulfills a need. Especially both. I’m willing to pay more (or for my wife to pay more) for long-lasting gifts. And if the result is fewer gifts, that’s fine with me. Less junk to clean up later after all. Can I get an amen for that?!

This Christmas, you might know, Plymouth Creek is getting a new gift; one that I suspect we’ll remember well as time goes by. Well, it may not be exactly Christmas, but we’re hoping that’s the basic timing. In any event, we’ll soon receive money for a church bus and seven years of operating expenses (time enough to build gas, insurance and upkeep into our annual budget).

If all goes as hoped and planned, this will be a great, wonderful gift. It’ll fulfill a need and be long-lasting, as well as honor the long-lasting gifts of others. For one, it’s the result of many months of research and planning on the part of the Board, its leaders and Steve Weaver. But it’s especially the consequence of many decades of faithfulness from Christian sisters and brothers of another church. I’m speaking, of course, about Valley View Christian Church. For many years, they provided ministry in Audubon Park, and then Fridley, until unfortunately closing their doors in 2003. The sale of their building and assets established a fund that has since paid for our Sunday morning bus service. Some former VV folk are now current PCCCers, and needed extra assistance getting to church. But now, rather than continuing to hire others for that ministry, we’ve decided to take it on ourselves! So the VV fund is giving us a one-time grant to establish a bus ministry. Meaning soon our members will make that Sunday morning run. And we’ll also have bus transportation for other ministries.

Remember what my mother said about my ski helmet gift? Basically, “You need to be responsible.” I think that’s an enduring truth about most long-lasting gifts, however fun they might be. This bus is a big responsibility, though one I believe we’ll manage well. But think about other memorable, long-lasting gifts, and a pattern emerges. Remarkable talent, a new job, family and kids. Memorable, long-lasting gifts go hand-in-hand with responsibility. Maybe that’s why gifts get more memorable as we age; growth builds strength and capacity, and thus, greater responsibility. I pray this gift reflects the continued growth and development of our church, and we’ll be faithful stewards of our new responsibilities, and the gifts of our Valley View friends.

Grace and Peace,

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