Letters & Prayers

Contributing Writer
Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY

My oldest daughter Molly wrote two letters to Santa this year. She handed them to me ceremoniously with specific instructions that I could open the first letter, but the second letter was between her and the big guy. The letter I was allowed to read said:

Dear Santa, I don’t care if I get no presents because Christmas is about the spirit of giving. P.S. From Molly Hannon. Hugs!

As I read this letter I cried. I was so proud. I wanted to post it on social media to let the whole world know what a great kid I have. She gets it! Christmas is not about presents or toys; it is about giving.
With my heart swollen like the Grinch’s, I secretly opened the second letter. The first letter was so good I couldn’t wait to read what other wisdom my daughter had to share. I expected more grace, selflessness, and generosity. However, that letter read:

Molly Hannon. 1. Hermione’s Wand 2. Puzzle Rainbow Lion 3. Lego Set 4. Beanie Boo
Dear Santa I will leave cookies this Christmas!

The little girl who publically professed she didn’t need presents because Christmas is about giving secretly pined for a few gifts of her own. Moreover, the free hugs in the first letter were replaced with bribery and cookies!
I share this story because I think most of us at this time of year find ourselves caught between these two letters. We know what this season is really all about. We know that it isn’t about presents or toys. We know that it isn’t about commercialism or finding the perfect gift. And yet, we still get caught up shopping and spending. We still pine for a few presents of our own.
I don’t plan on battling the commercialization of Christmas. That seems far too daunting. But I do wonder what this time of year would look like if we all really embraced the spirit of that first letter and forgot to write the second. Today, instead of looking to receive may you focus on what you have to give.
May we all take stock of the many gifts we’ve already received and the abundance that fills our lives.
May we rethink what we have to offer and may we consider how we can give the gift of ourselves this year, instead of just giving away stuff. And if that still seems like too much may we find someone nearby who is hurting, lonely, grieving, or blue, and give them hugs.
May all those who find themselves caught writing those two letters also take time to pray:

Dear God, thank you for the greatest gift of all: Jesus – amazing grace, overflowing joy, peace which surpasses understanding, and unconditional love. We don’t need no other presents because Christmas is about the spirit of giving. P.S. Your people. Hugs!

Hugs My Friends,

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

Previous articleFirst Lutheran Christmas Eve Services
Next articleAmazing North… Scandinavian Art Show by Monika and Peter Garami
Pastor Scott serves the people of St. John by helping the congregation welcome everyone, care for one another, and grow in the joy of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Pastor Scott earned his bachelor’s degree at the University at Buffalo and went to seminary at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in preaching from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Pastor Scott and his wife, Kate, live in Bowmansville, NY with their children Molly, Delaney, and John Scott. Scott and Kate love Western New York for many reasons, not the least of which are the changing seasons, wonderful people, and of course the Buffalo Bills. Pastor Scott’s ministry priorities are worship, preaching and teaching. Scott’s hobbies are guitar, golf, and reading. To read some of Scott’s musings visit his blog Way-ward at www.psdh.org.