[M]y son Houston told me that I “was served”, like “in your face”, like “you must have been embarrassed by what you gave him” because of a gift received from a very close friend this Christmas.  I was definitely served, yes, but from this particular individual I have been truly served by the joy of his friendship, his guidance, his humor, his, dare I say it, love through the years we have known each other.  “Served” or not, the friendship, the relationship is the true gift that is cherished.

I have a personal tradition each year of considering the gift, which I have received and the gift that I have given that most impacts my heart.  I spoke of this aloud for the first time this Christmas to my family as I gave my son Stuart a striking journal.  A leather journal, beautifully embossed with a detailed design along with his name.  As Stuart heads off at the end of this year to Kenya, I imagine him penning his thoughts, feelings and his blessings as he reaches out to help others.  I have long understood the power of memorializing what occurs in and about our lives on a regular basis.  The beauty, the hurt, the humor, the kindnesses given and received are exponentially more powerful when recalled and meditated upon.   My hope then is that Stuart jots a few thoughts as he spends an extended period of time in Nairobi.

All of us love when we receive a special or big gift of something that we have longed for or that we have wanted but were unwilling to spend the money on.  I received one that fits that definition this Christmas.  It was wonderful and it was exciting and it was big big.  The gift though that hands down impacted my heart in the greatest way was in the form of an envelope given to me at Mary’s Kitchen on the 24th.  A dear friend of ours, first met at the kitchen, handed me a beautiful Christmas card with words written, which expressesd his heart.  A heart that was appreciative of our friendship, thankful for our helping him “begin a new journey”.   Big is good, big also satisfies for a time.  Friendship though, relationship and walking alongside in this journey of life shouts big big and is the big big that lasts, nothing bigger in my book.

One last Merry Christmas 2011 to all of you.  As New Year comes, bringing us into 2012 lets all strive to go large in the relationship department.  How about a collective resolution to substantially enter as many journeys as we possibly can.

We are blessed, God is good and yes, we are the church.