Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.1 Peter 4:8-10 (NRSV)
Hey, thanks for taking the time to watch this week’s Oldtown Short. I wonder, with Christmas having been a little less than a month ago, were there any amazing gifts that you received? I know I got a birdbath and a birdfeeder, some cool kitchen gadgets, and lots of tea and comfy socks; all things that my family knows that I absolutely love. And it was fun to sit around and open presents, even though we didn’t have the usual Christmas crowd because of Covid.
Many people have the custom of giving and receiving gifts for Christmas or birthdays or other life milestones. But this week I’ve been thinking about other gifts that we receive. Gifts that aren’t wrapped in ribbons and bows and fancy paper. The truth is, many of the gifts that we receive in life come to us in and through people. Family, friends, teachers, neighbors, and sometimes even strangers. And truly amazing gifts are things that we impart to others simply by being who we are.
Well, as some of you know, my dad passed away this week. And my family and I have heard from many, people about the amazing gifts he shared. Helping those in need and offering a warm welcome, especially to people at church.
He also had the gift of pushing boundaries, like letting girls be part of his wood and metal shop classes back in the early 70s when things like that didn’t happen. Or how he had an amazing gift for encouraging people to be the best that they could be, not by chasing money or society’s norms, but by following their hearts.
Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say he wasn’t also stubborn and difficult to work with sometimes, because he was. But that gift of stubbornness was usually because he was looking at the bigger picture. He had an amazing sense of vision and could picture things before they were completed, especially when it came to construction. Now some people share beautiful gifts of music, but my dad? He couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket! His greatest gift was the gift of building. He built birdhouses, furniture, homes, businesses, friendships, and family, and in sharing his gift, he built up the worth, courage, and strength of others.
In everything he did, he was always teaching, whether the lesson came through a story he told, something he did, or something he empowered someone else to do. That’s why from a young age, this girl could shingle a house, fix a leaky sink or toilet, wire a light switch, or draw plans for a project. And though he was a big guy and could appear “rough and tumble” on the outside, on the inside he had a heart of gold. Perhaps his greatest gift was his ability to make people feel important by paying attention to them and joking around even with the youngest of kids. He had an uncanny ability to make everyone feel special. And up until his very last day, he was concerned about others, always asking about his grandkids and people at church.
He often shared his gifts of wisdom. In tough times, my dad taught us that it’s faith and family that bring you through. He taught us to take care of ourselves, but also to do what you can, to bring out the best in others, and no matter what, never use what you have to put others down or make anyone else feel less important.
Friends, this week, I would encourage you to look for the amazing gifts that you receive in and through the people and places around you. Remember they don’t have to be wrapped in ribbons and bows. They don’t have to be fancy, and they don’t need to be expensive. Actually, some of the best gifts don’t cost anything at all.
I’d like to leave you with a few simple things that, through my dad, I’ve learned to see as amazing gifts. The joy of planting seeds, because then you get to watch them grow. The sweet smell of sawdust, because it means that something is being created and made new. The smell of hot asphalt, because as a roofer, my dad always said, “That smells like money!” A simple act of kindness, because you never know what another person is going through. And finally, the amazing gift of treasured memories, because they make life’s journey a little bit sweeter.
Friends, thank you for being the church and for allowing me the gift of this time to honor my dad.