Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor
Our daughter Eva was in from her home in Arkansas last week.
She volunteered for The Reindeer Project while she was here, and has been enthusing about it ever since.
On that night, we greeted approximately 70 Garland Independent School District (GISD) families as they came through our doors.
We served them a hot meal, helped adult family members wrap gifts for their children, and attended to children in the “Mom and Pop Shop” as they selected gifts for the important adults in their lives.
As each family left, they were given groceries for a holiday meal.
This year’s Reindeer Project statistics tell an amazing story.
Nine churches within the boundaries of the GISD joined together to purchase and sort gifts for 1,324 GISD children.
Three of those churches – First United Methodist Garland, First United Methodist Rowlett, and First Christian Rowlett – serve as distribution sites for those gifts.
All through this process, we pray for the families, meet other immediate needs when possible and, most importantly, nurture relationships and share the love of God.
That last bit is key: nurturing relationships and sharing the love of God.
Here’s one story.
One of the last families of the evening I remembered from last year – all of the children’s names begin with the same letter.
As we joined together with the parents to wrap gifts for each child, the mom and dad oohed and aahed over each gift.
(This was their first time seeing the gifts selected for their children.)
As the mom was filling out tags for each child’s gifts, she said, “I think Santa gets too much credit. I’m going to put ‘Jesus’ as the giver.”
Her simple statement sums up why we do The Reindeer Project, Night in Bethlehem, our children’s musicals, Chancel Choir cantatas, and so many other acts of loving service.
We do this out of love for the Divine Giver who loved us first.
This is the Christmas message in a nutshell.
Out of love, God came in Christ to be one with us and the whole world.
That message fits on a gift tag: “From: Jesus.”
Rock-a-bye, my dear little boy,
wonder of wonders, my blessing and joy;
slumber as I gently hold you,
let my tender love enfold you;
gift of God to me and the world,
here in my arms lies so peacefully curled.
Little Jesus, Infant Divine, Infant Divine,
one with the Father, yet born to be mine;
as I rock you calmly sleeping,
angel guards their watch are keeping;
precious child, one day we shall see
what love has destined for you and for me.
Rock-a-Bye, My Dear Little Boy, United Methodist Hymnal 235