Hi Friends,

I can’t believe that Christmas is almost upon us.  While our celebrations will certainly be different this year, it is still exciting to think about the joy of Christmas day.  

I’m sure that you are not like me and that you have completed your Christmas shopping already.  I like the hustle and bustle, so I always save a few items for the last minute.  I know, I know, I’m crazy, but everyone has their quirks.  However, even if you aren’t planning on buying anything else this year, there is a gift that you can give your friends and family as you celebrate with them.  This gift is absolutely free, but I guarantee you it will be one of the most appreciated gifts you could ever give.  Are you ready for it?  Here’s the gift.  Take your phone and turn notifications off.  Place it in a drawer and commit to only taking it out at certain times for the next few days.  Then you can give, whoever you are spending time with, the gift of being present.  

How many moments are missed, because we are scrolling through Instagram?  How many memories aren’t made because we are looking at our favorite feeds?  How often do we not see what’s happening around us, because our phones have our eyes?  It’s so easy to excuse ourselves.  “I’m not that bad.”  “I only check every now and then”, etc…  But do you really want someone checking your screen time in your settings?  I know that cute kitty video really needs to be viewed.  I understand that the world might stop if you don’t respond to that comment on that post.  I get it that counting your likes is as essential to life as drinking water.  Ok, maybe that’s overstating things.  But isn’t that how we act?  

I can already hear the objections (because I’m making them too!). I use my phone to take pictures and record videos, so how can I document our memories if my phone is away? Well, if we need phones to be our cameras, we can still turn off notifications and lock apps.  But then we think, “But I don’t need to do that, I’ll just not look.”  However, our brains are hardwired to check notifications and if we are used to tapping on certain apps, that’s a habit we can’t just turn off.  So be disciplined.  Change your phone, so that you are forced to change how you interact with your phone.  

Friends, digital engagement can never replace being present with people around us.  Think about Christmas.  Jesus didn’t send us a tweet.  He didn’t create an Instagram post.  He didn’t write a clickbait news headline.  He came and incarnated himself.  He came and was present with us.  One of the ways we can imitate His love is by putting away our phones and being present with those around us.

So let’s commit to be present and enjoy that beautiful (and free!) gift.

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Jeff