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Sermon Series | 2019

Here you will find links to the audio from sermons in 2019.
To access sermons from other years, please click the appropriate link:
2018 | 20172016 | 2015
If you experience any errors, please contact info@blakemoreumc.org.


Struggle

Making Sense of the Human Experience with God
November 2019

November 10 2019
Psalms
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
We celebrated Blakemore Children’s Center (BCC) Sunday with the families and staff of our preschool. The service was filled with attention to children, and the sermon is, therefore, shorter than usual. Pastor John explores the Psalms and the importance of poetry to express what we are feeling and going through in the various parts of our lives. Part of the message of the Psalms is that we are not alone in whatever we are feeling and that God is great enough to handle whatever we might put forward. We are each invited to partner with God to write our own verse.

November 3 2019
Suffering
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
On this date, we celebrated All Saints Sunday and remembered the lives of 8 church members who died within the last year. That’s 10% of our average worship attendance and a combined 334 years of church membership at Blakemore – a significant loss in every way. The story of Job relays even greater loss for a righteous man – all his wealth, all his children, and even his health. The book of Job wrestles with the question of why suffering happens when God is good and all-powerful. Various characters put forth different ideas and explanations, but in the end, no answer can be reached. But we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us in our suffering and indeed knows our suffering intimately.


Chosen

Continuing Our Journey with the People of Israel
September-October 2019

October 27 2019
Building up Our Faith
Preacher: Rev. James Jones
After Jerusalem was destroyed and many of the Jews sent into exile by Babylon, a new power rose in the Middle East. King Cyrus of Persia created a new political reality and invited the Jews to return home and rebuild the Temple and the city. As they did, the priest Ezra took issue with the foreign wives that many of the men had married, but Rev. Jones sees beauty in the diversity of humanity, just like in a garden of tulips of various colors. Ultimately, it is through Jesus Christ that we come to know the fullness of God’s desire for humanity and in whom we find unity. God calls us to build today just as the people of Israel were called so long ago.  

October 20 2019
Exile
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
We have spent most of our Journey Through the Bible so far with the people of Israel, who were a people of a particular land that had been promised to them. What happens when they can no longer call that land home? What happens to us when something we hold to be foundational shifts or when changes happen all around us? The prophet Jeremiah buys a field in Judah as a sign of hope and sends a letter to the exiles telling them to seek the good of their new homes. Daniel stays true to his faith, and God is with him. Esther has courage and uses her position to seek good. How will we respond when we are strangers in a strange land? 

October 13 2019
Kings
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
God’s plan had always been for the people of Israel to be set apart from the rest of the world. Part of that plan was for them to have no king or queen; God would be their sovereign.  Eventually, God relented and allowed the people of Israel to anoint king. David was their greatest king, and his son Solomon was known for his great wisdom and for building the Temple in Jerusalem. But Solomon was not always faithful in his love of God or his love of neighbor. After Solomon, the kingdom was divided and few kings had much success, ultimately leading to other powers conquering the kingdoms. During this time, the prophets stood up to corruption, called for greater faithfulness, and warned of what was to come. Where are we called to be prophets to the kings of today?

October 6 2019
David
Preacher: Rev. David Hollis
Rev. David Hollis, the campus minister for the Belmont Wesley Fellowship, joins us today to share about his namesake: King David. David is known as the greatest king of Israel, hand-selected by God, defeater of Goliath, a man after God’s own heart, and the ancestor of Jesus Christ. But David was also human and failed to live up to God’s ideals for his life. We hear of his infidelity with Bathsheba and his attempted cover up, only to be exposed by the prophet Nathan. Where do we need more honesty and light and truth-telling in our lives and church and world today? Where is God calling each of us to be like the prophet Nathan and speak truth to power?  

September 29 2019
Ruth
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Do you know the feeling of being left out? We’ve all experienced it, but some to a much greater and more harmful degree than others. Pastor John just returned from a conference in Kansas City and was reminded of the history of exclusion in our faith, even among the people called Methodist. Ruth is a character from the Bible who could have easily been excluded – because she was a foreigner (Moabite) and a woman. Instead, through her own tenacity and the kindness of Boaz, she finds a family and even becomes the ancestor of both King David and Jesus Christ. This story reminds us that God’s love is bigger than any boundary we might try to place on it. May we seek to include others, especially those who have been marginalized, as Boaz did, and may we cling to God’s expansive love as Ruth did.  

September 22 2019
Judges
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Have you ever felt like the same thing keeps happening over and over again? That’s what happened in Ancient Israel during the time of the Judges as the people were caught in a cycle of sin. They would be faithful for a while, turn their backs on God, be oppressed by other nations, cry out for help, and then God would raise up a Judge to deliver them. This happened repeatedly and resulted in a downward spiral of apostasy and violence. And perhaps, there’s no escape from these types of cycles. Rather than trying to get out of them, we can trust that God will remain faithful and bring us back around once again. Our work then is to support one another as we go through these times and work to, as Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested, bend the arc of the universe toward justice. 

September 15 2019
Joshua
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Note: audio is unavailable for this date
We begin our second series in our Journey Through the Bible with the book of Joshua, which focuses on the land that was promised to the Hebrew people. The first half of the book tells of the conquest of the land while the second half focused on how the land is to be divided among the twelve tribes. The fall of Jericho is probably the most famous story from the book, but all these stories of violence raise important questions about violence in God’s name. Perhaps we get it wrong when we are utterly convinced – in anything, not just in war – that God is on our side and that justifies any means we might use. Where is our humility and gentleness and patience and love? The book begins with a commandment to be strong and courageous; sometimes the most courageous thing we can do is admit that we are wrong or don’t know everything.


In the Beginning

Starting Our Journey Through the Bible with the Torah
August-September 2019

September 8 2019
Wilderness
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
We conclude our initial series during our Journey Through the Bible with the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness for forty years. Wandering, though, is perhaps not the best word because we hear in our scripture passage that God’s presence in the form of a cloud or fire would guide them. We all have these times of wilderness in our lives, and it is during these times that we are shaped and formed and grow into the people God intends for us to be. They bring about some of the best stories, and we hear several of these stories from this time in the history of the Hebrew people, including special tricks for winning in battle, what to do if you are bitten by a poisonous snake, and a talking donkey (yes, you read that correctly).

September 1 2019
Torah
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
In this sermon, we join the Hebrew people at the base of Mount Sinai as Moses goes up the mountain into God’s presence to receive the Torah, the Law. We are reminded that the Torah is a gift and not a burden, that it is given in the context of Covenant, and that perhaps it is more important to look at the big picture behind the Torah and the spirit of the law rather than to get hung up on specific commandments and the letter of the law. We explore different categories of the Torah (worship, purity, social, justice) and recognize the need for each of these and lament the over emphasis of any one. Ultimately, we realize that the Torah is designed to help us love God and love one another.

August 25 2019
Exodus
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
We come to the primary story of the Hebrew Bible: God’s deliverance of the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. God calls Moses to lead this important task, and Pastor John takes a look at Moses’ story of calling before taking a step back to explore the cry of the oppressed people and how God hears and responds to them. This story raises important questions about who God hears and when God responds and – perhaps most importantly for us – where we are called to participate in God’s work of liberation and redemption.

August 18 2019
Egypt
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Note: audio is unavailable for this date
Each community has its own stories that define it. For the Hebrew people and the Jewish faith, it is the story of Exodus from slavery in Egypt and deliverance into the Promised Land. But before we can fully appreciate that story, we need to understand how it came to be. On this Sunday, Pastor John took a dive into the story of Joseph, a dreamer, who was betrayed by his brothers, sold as a servant in Egypt, and eventually rose to prominence there. In fact, through his interpretation of dreams and good management, he led the effort to save food in Egypt for a coming famine, which in turn brought the rest of his family to Egypt. God indeed works in mysterious ways.

August 11 2019
Covenant
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
We cover a lot of ground in this sermon! Pastor John gives an overview of the entire book of Genesis – the primeval history (the stories of creation, Noah and the Flood, the Tower of Babel, etc.) and the ancestral history of Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebekah, and Jacob & Rachel & Leah. God makes a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and we look at three main components to covenant that we experience still today with the New Covenant in Jesus Christ: 1) God Acts First. 2) We Respond to God’s Invitation. 3) God Makes a Promise. And we can always trust God’s promises.

August 4 2019
Creation
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
We begin our series from the beginning of the Bible at the very beginning: the story of creation. Other ancient cultures also sought to explain the origins of the world through story, but the narrative in the first chapter of Genesis stands unique in some important ways. It emphasizes that there is one God, who made everything. It tells how God brought the world into being through speaking and how God made order in the midst of chaos. Finally, once creation is complete, God surveys all that God has made – including humanity – and calls it “very good.” 


The Ten Commandments

Understanding God’s Basic Rules for Life
Summer 2019

July 28 2019
Who Do You Say That I Am?
Preacher: Steffie Misner-Wampler
Our series on the Ten Commandments comes to a close with the commandment “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God” or as many of us know it “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.” This commandment goes beyond a simple reading of not cursing or saying OMG. God’s name is related to who God is and what God does. When we do anything to go against God’s nature, we are misusing God’s name. Listen as Steffie shares more about this and challenges us to live more faithful lives. 

July 21 2019
Honesty
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
The ninth commandment often gets shortened to “Do not lie,” but there is an important distinction between lying in all circumstances and bearing false witness. The latter is a question of legal matters and justice. Pastor John examines the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 who sell some property under the auspices of giving all the proceeds to the church, only to keep some of the money for themselves, lie about it, and fall down dead. Verse 2 tells us that they “brought only a part.” How often do we only bring a part of ourselves…to a conversation, to work we are doing, to worship. We have trouble being fully present and engaged with an undivided heart. But to truly know God and one another, we must be open and honest.

July 14 2019
Making an Idol
Preacher: Nate Partee
Nate preached his final sermon at Blakemore, and it is also the one he recorded for his commissioning application in the ordination process. He looks at the commandments “You shall have no other gods before me” and “You shall not make for yourself an idol” through the story of Jesus talking about the necessity to hate our fathers and mothers and other loved ones in order to follow Jesus. Yikes! Nate wrestles with these difficult ideas and realizes along the way that perhaps he makes an idol out of his own arguments and education. In the end, we are invited to take up our cross and follows Jesus, but to do that what must we lay down?

July 7 2019
The Sacredness of Life
Preacher: Rev. Amanda Borchik
Rev. Amanda Borchik, a staff chaplain at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, was our guest preacher this day. She looks at the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis and the ethics behind the commandments “Do not murder” and “Do not kill.” She reminds us that we indeed are the keepers of our brothers and sisters. She weaves together poetry, current events, and personal experiences to offer a powerful witness that we are all called to restore and uphold the sacredness of all life and to preserve the dignity of all people. She calls us to embrace the true meaning of justice and work for it in the world.

June 30 2019
Remember to Rest
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Note: audio is unavailable for this date
In Mark 2:23-28, Jesus is questioned because his disciples picked grain to eat on the sabbath. In Jesus’ response, he cites a similar story about David eating bread that was offered to God as a sacrifice. Jesus’ point is that the law about the sabbath is for our own benefit, not simply for some arbitrary fulfillment of a law. The two versions of the Ten Commandments offer differing reasons for this commandment: following God’s pattern of rest established in the creation story and giving thanks to God (worship) for all the God has done for us. We need to do both or we will end up like a spider endlessly spinning its web until it dies from exhaustion.

June 23 2019
Fidelity and Gratitude
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Note: audio is unavailable for this date
The commandment “You shall not commit adultery” is very short in the original Hebrew – just two words. We have used this commandment that leaves much to interpretation to harm and oppress groups of people and individuals throughout history. Perhaps we should take a step back and see that the intent behind the commandment is for us to be faithful to what we hold most dear. Likewise, the commandment about not coveting can be seen in more positive terms: to be content and give thanks for all the blessings we enjoy.

June 16 2019
Honor Your Parents
Preacher: Nate Partee
Note: audio is unavailable for this date
Our intern Nate kicks off our summer worship series on The Ten Commandments. Each week we will take a fresh look at one or two of the Ten Commandments in an attempt to understand the reasons behind them and how we can live into not just the letter of the law, but the spirit as well. Nate reminds us that honoring our parents extends beyond just those with whom we share genetic material and is, in fact, a call to care for all those who care for us.


God Goes to Broadway

Convergence of Christ and Culture
Spring 2019

June 2 2019
Hope for Tomorrow
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Note: audio is unavailable for this date
One of the most famous songs from Annie is an anthem of optimism called “Tomorrow.” Unlike Annie, though, we often have a negative outlook related to the future. Either we use it as an excuse to avoid something in the present (procrastination) or it paralyzes us with fear and anxiety (worry). But because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and God’s promises in scripture for a better tomorrow (God’s reign here on earth), we can have hope for tomorrow. Hope, though, is not enough by itself. James reminds us that faith without works is dead; in the same way, hope without action is meaningless. May our hope inspire us to live with purpose and passion.

May 26 2019
Changed for Good
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Many of the stories that we love the most have a central character who is transformed during the course of the story. Often, it is the main character who goes on a Hero’s Journey (cf. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces), but sometimes it is another character. Pastor John looks more closely at two stories of transformation: the woman at the well in John 4:1-15 and Harold Hill in The Music Man. What is it that brings about change for the good in each of these characters? How can we experience that same kind of transformation? And how can we participate in the transformation of others?

May 19 2019
The Heart of God
Preacher: Steffie Misner-Wampler
Scripture witnesses over and over again that the poor and marginalized have a special place in God’s heart. As people of faith, we are called to turn our attention to their plight and work to change the systems of oppression that perpetuate cycles of poverty and violence. “Les Miserables” traces the life of Jean Valjean as he encounters various groups of people experience hardship – prisoners, factory workers, prostitutes, street people, revolutionaries, and more. He acts to offer mercy and grace because he has received the same. May we too extend this same expression of God’s heart to others and work to bring about God’s Reign here on earth.  

May 12 2019
The Courage to Care
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
We often ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, but a more important question might be who they want to be – as in, the quality of their character. The Bible points us to lots of these character qualities (lists in Paul’s letters, the Ten Commandments, the Fruit of the Spirit, the Beatitudes, etc.), and it takes work and cooperation with the Holy Spirit to get there. Maria, the main character from The Sound of Music similarly wrestles with who she is. She discovers courage within herself to love the von Trapp children, to advocate for them, and ultimately – with Captain von Trapp – to resist evil forces in the world. We, too, are called to persevere and have the courage to care for others.

May 5 2019
Tradition and Change
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Change is inevitable. We kick off our Broadway series with the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” The show’s main character, Tevye, is dealing with cultural and societal changes all around him while trying to cling to the traditions of his faith and village. When three of his daughters make requests for marriage outside of his traditional wishes, struggle arises. Paul offers wisdom in 1 Corinthians 10:31 to a church struggling with similar issues that they should do everything for the glory of God. Change is happening all around us as well. How do we remain faithful to our traditions and religion while also embracing people who may think or act differently? 


Risk: Entering the Passion

Joining Jesus on a Risky Journey to the Cross
Lent 2019

April 21 2019 – Easter Sunday
Risk and Reward
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we acknowledge the fear that gripped the guards and thw women at Jesus’ tomb that morning and remember all the risks that led to that moment. There are many who have faced risks and done great things, despite their fear and uncertainty. Following Jesus demands the same of us. What risks are we called to take? Being grounded in God’s love – a love so great that not even death could separate us from it – frees us to be able to take these risks and experience new life. 

April 18 2019 – Maundy Thursday
Risking Intimacy
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
On Maundy Thursday, we remember the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his Disciples through reading the story, celebrating Holy Communion, and washing one another’s feet. It is a story that our church knows well because we celebrate Communion each Sunday during worship, but the act of foot washing is less familiar to us. We typically only practice it on Maundy Thursday. While we usually focus on the act and call of service, tonight we are reminded that sometimes the biggest risk is allowing someone else to wash our feet and creating intimacy and vulnerability. It is a reminder that we need one another and God’s love and grace.

April 14 2019
Risking Reputation
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate as Jesus enters into Jerusalem with much fanfare from the crowd. Matthew’s version of the story, in particular, contains many references and much imagery from the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus rides in on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9), the people shout “Hosanna” (Psalm 118:25-26), and Jesus is called both Son of David and a Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18). We see that Jesus is a different kind of king and savior than might have been expected – one who risks much and never fails us even though we may fail him.

April 7 2019
Risking Temptation
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Jesus spends his last moments before being arrested in a garden with his followers. In some versions, he is in agony over what lies ahead. He is perhaps tempted to use the power at his disposal to avoid the pain and suffering that await him. In John’s Gospel, however, he willingly sets aside his power. In all the stories, his disciples are tempted and falter. They cannot stay awake and pray with Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Peter meets violence with violence by striking the slave of the High Priest with his sword. Jesus shows us a better way – the way of nonviolence. While he is indicted and convicted, his resistance to meet violence with violence indicts our whole system of violence and should convict us to respond instead with love.

March 31 2019
Risking the Loss of Friends
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Jesus shares a Last Supper with his Disciples prior to his betrayal and arrest. In Luke’s Gospel, this supper is a Passover Seder meal, whose symbolism and rites serve as a reminder to Jews of their Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Jesus takes these traditions and symbols and gives new meaning to them: his body and blood. This all asks the loss of his followers. He even shares the meal with Judas, his betrayer, and thus shows us that all are welcome at the Table. Indeed, God invites us through Communion to seek reconciliation with one another. Finally, through Communion we are called to be servants in ministry to the world.   

March 24 2019
Risking Rejection
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Each of the four Gospels tells a story of a woman anointing Jesus. Sometimes she is named and sometimes she is not. Sometimes she anoints Jesus’ head and sometimes she anoints his feet. Sometimes it happens during the final week of Jesus’ life and sometimes it happens earlier in his ministry. But every time, someone gets upset. This woman risks rejection and judgment by offering an extravagant gift to Jesus. While others judge her, Jesus comes to her defense and even praises her. When is the last time we did the same for someone else? When is the last time we risked as much as this woman did because we were inspired by God’s love in Jesus?  

March 17 2019
Risking Challenge
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
It was most often Jesus’ teaching that got him into trouble; not his actions. Teaching can be risky, especially when publicly challenging the status quo. We examine one particular teaching of Jesus during his final week in Jerusalem. In Mark 12:41-44, he watches as rich people place large sums of money into the Temple treasury. Then a widow, with barely anything to her name, gives two small coins. This prompts Jesus to invite his Disciples over to teach them about what is really important in giving. Listen as Pastor John recounts this story and what it means to give sacrificially.

March 10 2019
Risking Righteous Anger
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
As we begin the season of Lent, Pastor John reminds us that it is a risky journey to walk with Jesus to the cross. We examine the story of Jesus’ turning over the tables in the Temple and learn some background information that perhaps paints a different picture of the event than was in our minds. We are reminded of the risks involved with creating an open and inclusive place of worship, and Pastor John invites us to reflect on the things in this world that cause us to experience righteous or holy anger and how those feelings might move us to actions of compassion and justice.


Imago Dei

What Does It Mean to Bear the Image of God?
Winter 2019

March 3 2019
A Remaking
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Note: There is no audio available for this date.
It is in the shadow of the events of the called special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church that we concluded our worship series called “Imago Dei.” After an emotional week, Pastor John shares his heartfelt experiences and reflections on General Conference and wonders if God isn’t remaking the Methodist movement into something new just as the potter from Jeremiah 18:1-6 remakes the spoiled pottery. 

February 24 2019
Love in Action
Preacher: Steffie Misner-Wampler
Note: There is no audio available for this date.
On Children and Youth Sunday, our young people reminded us that everyone has a place in the church and that we are all called to embody love. When we show love together as a community of faith, the Image of God is manifested in the world. Steffie preached from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a and reminded us about the true nature of God’s love. 

February 17 2019
You Are Loved
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
The previous week we were reminded that because we are made in God’s image, we are loved. This week, we were reminded that because other’s are made in God’s image, they are loved too. But we often struggle to love others and honor their full humanity – those who are different than us as well as those who are like us. With the background of the called General Conference, Pastor John wonders aloud what our Church might look like if we truly embraced what it means for all people to be seen as bearing the Image of God, ultimately calling us to befriend – in the deepest sense of the word – others. 

February 10 2019
I Am Loved
Preacher: Rev. Scott Aleridge, District Superintendent
Our District Superintendent joined us for worship in order to lead a called charge conference to approve a Capital Campaign for a new HVAC system, a Forever Family Home in Uganda through Raise the Roof Academy, and renovation of the Fellowship Hall. He shared about his own struggles to accept God’s love for him, especially during a particularly difficult time in his life – a cancer diagnosis and treatment. He challenged us to set aside whatever barriers are in the way – small, medium, or large – and embrace God’s amazing love for each of us. 

February 3 2019
Finding Meaning and Purpose
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Pastor John shares about his favorite Bible verse: Romans 8:28. While some read this passage and walk away with an understanding that everything happens for a reason and is part of God’s plan, Pastor John sees it a little bit differently. God is at work in the world. God desires our good. And God has a plan and purpose. When we put these together with being made in God’s image, we discover that we – individually and collectively – are part of God’s great plan. Our work is to discover our part and find meaning in living into it.  

January 27 2019
Imitating God
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
Note: There is no audio available for this date.
We look at what it means to be created in the Image of God by examining what the word image means. As in a mirror or picture, the image is not identical to the original, but there is a relationship between the two. From this, we learn that 1) we are not God, 2) we are like God in some ways, and 3) we represent God in the world. When Jesus was asked about paying taxes, he said that since the coin bore Caesar’s image, we should give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Since we bear the Image of God, may we give ourselves to God.  

January 20 2019
Identity
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
As we begin our series in earnest, we take a look at the theme of Identity in science fiction and fantasy. These genres and their worlds that are not quite our own help us to explore what it means to be human and to know ourselves. In examples like superheroes, Fringe, and The Good Place, it can be easy to get confused and lose track of oneself. This happens to us as well, and we need to be reminded that despite changes that occur throughout our lives and how we might define ourselves, the bedrock on which we can build our identity is as those who are created in God’s image.  

January 13 2019
Remember Your Baptism
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
On Baptism of the Lord Sunday, we explore the meaning of baptism together. Baptism is one of two sacraments in The United Methodist Church (Holy Communion is the other). It serves to initiate us into the family of faith, celebrate the grace and forgiveness we receive from God, call us into ministry, and affirm God’s claim on us as a child of God. Just as God calls Jesus “Beloved” at his baptism, God calls each and every one of us “Beloved” as well.  


Stand Alone Sermons

January 2019

January 6 2019
Gifts Received and Given
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
On the first Sunday of 2019, we celebrate Epiphany (the arrival of the Magi to visit the young Jesus) and conclude our series from Advent and Christmas called “All Earth Is Waiting.” We reflect on gifts given at Christmas and that feeling of searching for the perfect gift and the sense of relief and connection and love when the recipient enjoys the gift. The greatest gift any of us can give is the gift of our selves, and that is what God offers at Christmas. We are invited to experience the most wonderful gifts of Jesus Christ and the earth with gratitude and to respond with joy and by offering ourselves.