Christmas Brunch with The Black family - foreground - and my parents... Last night I was in conversation with some old friends who have been active in church all their lives. They live in another city, and currently attend a "non-denominational" fellowship.
They seemed amazed when we shared the story of our associate pastor's big Christmas surprise.
"He was at your house Christmas morning?" they questioned. I'm not sure, but I think their mouths were hanging open just a little.
"Tim and Kelly always come over for Christmas brunch," Rebekah said. "They bring their boys, we exchange presents...."
She stopped, realizing how often churches experience conflict in their pastoral staff: Preachers who can't work together, petty jealousies, personality conflicts, sabotage, territorial disputes, heavy-handed supervision, taking sides, church splits....
"We just love each other," Rebekah said. "Tim's like a brother."
Love is all we need:
Six and a half years ago, when our church was searching for an addition to the pastoral staff, I was just as interested in the potential spouse. I lobbied hard for calling a pastor who's husband - or wife - loved Jesus, loved the preacher, and loved the church.
Because it's bunk when they say, "A candidate's husband or wife should not be a factor when calling a minister...." Like it or not, it matters hugely! Churches need pastors with committed family support and they need a spouse who feels called 100%. That doesn't mean "two for the price of one", so much as it means "one with the heart of two."
Consequently, while it's awesome that Rebekah loves Tim, it's a wonderful gift from God that I love Kelly too.
That's why this year's Advent Conspiracy worked out so well. Kelly had been thinking about getting Tim a new guitar pretty much all year long; she stuffed the occasional $5 bill in an envelope just to see what might happen. It's tough to pull surprises when your husband pays the bills.
By the fall she had enough to think about shopping. That's where I came in. We started looking, pulled in a few more contributing gifters, and the plot moved into high gear. One day Kelly and I managed to sneak off while Tim was stuck at a multi-hour beach wedding and we got the job done.
That was before Thanksgiving, so the guitar (and hard shell case) remained in my care until Tim and Kelly (Micah and Liam in tow) showed up for Christmas brunch.
We pulled it off! Tim was in shock. Score for us!
- God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:16-21)