I will be taking a break from the weekly devotional newsletter for a few weeks. They will resume after the new year on January 10th. I hope I will get to see you in our worship services on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day!
When I was a youth minister, I had a standard line I would use to try and control the youth’s behavior when we would take trips. We would be driving in the church van, and I would say that when they were riding in the van that the church’s name was plastered all over the sides. So whatever they did, and however they behaved, would reflect the church. They wouldn’t just be representing themselves, they would be representing the church. This was pretty effective, and probably still gets used by youth ministers to this day, though I think church vans have gone a little out of style.
This summer, Embry Hills was selected for a grant from United Methodist Communications and we were able to buy a lot of stuff with the Embry Hills logo on it. The staff has been calling it Embry Hills Swag. (SWAG is a term that started as an acronym for Stuff We All Get.) For Christmas Eve, we will be giving a lot of this swag away to anyone who wants it, with the instructions, to take it out into the world. Give it away to someone else if you would like. But keep in mind, when you wear your hat or have your coffee tumbler with the church name on it, you aren’t just representing yourself, you are representing the church.
What a joy and privilege that is! I love telling people I am the pastor of Embry Hills UMC. Many times, when people are making small talk they ask me what I do for work, and I tell them, and I invite them. A few folks have taken me up on my offer, which is always exciting. Because our faith tells us to give it away. We know from experience in the Christmas season that giving is better than receiving and that God gave so much to us. Most important, the gift of Jesus Christ, who we have the joy to go out and represent every day. We do not have to plaster it on our van or put it on a logo, they will know we are Christians by our love. Merry Christmas!