The Gift of Presence

Written by the Reverend Woody Brown

My Dear Friends,

 The wait is almost over and Christmas is almost here!

Fred Buechner is an author,  teacher and Presbyterian. I am a fan of his work and have been for a long time. He offers this thought on the “Wise Men.”

“The gifts that the three wise men, or kings, or Magi, brought to the manger in Bethlehem cost them plenty but seem hardly appropriate to the occasion. Maybe they were all they could think of for the child who had everything. In any case, they set them down on the straw—the gold, the frankincense, the myrrh—worshiped briefly, and then returned to the East, where they had come from. It gives you pause to consider how, for all their great wisdom, they overlooked the one gift that the child would have been genuinely pleased to have someday, and that was the gift of themselves.”

Christmas is filled with so many activities, plans, responsibilities, expectations and memories. For some of us, this season brings great joy and hope for our world, community and lives. Because of this birth in Bethlehem, we remain confident that God is part of our lives and our world. Because of this birth, we are hopeful that God’s presence will continue to change the world and change lives for good.

For others of us, this season brings the pain of loss and a sense of hopelessness. Certainly, as we grow older and loved ones are no longer with us during the special holidays, we miss them. The pain of loss is real and part of life. In my life, I choose to be “thankful” for those dear ones who are no longer living. Certainly, I miss them and wish they were still with us. Yet, I choose to be thankful for their lives and their living legacies. I choose not to dwell on their absence. For those of us who grieve during this season, Christmas brings the promise that God is with us now and forever.

This Christmas I invite you to receive the gift of God’s presence. I also invite you to give the gift of yourself.

Christ is born!

Merry Christmas,

Woody Brown
Interim Sr. Pastor


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Woody Brown is the Interim Pastor and Head of Staff at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. Woody has served the Presbyterian Church for 30 years. He has served in pastoral ministry in urban, sub-urban, and rural areas. His passion in ministry is serving and leading the people of God. Most recently, Woody served as the senior pastor of the Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church in Overland Park, Kansas.