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Gifts that matter most

By Dr. Bascom Ratliff

Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches

The inspiration for today’s message is from: 

Ephesians 2: 8-10, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, it is a gift of God”.

Christmas has long been one of my favorite holidays. I especially appreciate the opportunity to get together with family and friends, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and to remember the many wonderful gifts from God, our Creator.

Today’s message is a challenge. I encourage you, my readers, to take a moment and focus on the less obvious gifts that we received from our relationship with God. Most of us are familiar with the gifts that come from God’s Holy Spirit. And, if we really think about it, we can also recognize and acknowledge the gifts that come from our relationships with family and friends. 

All too often we give “faint praise” to the gift of relationships. Sadly, it’s only after a relationship ends that we experience the absence and grief that comes from our loss. We may ruminate, mourn, or weep following this loss. We may minimize or deny the importance of the loss as a way of protecting our emotional selves. However, regardless of how we deal with the losses in our life, we are left with a wound in our heart.

My sister, Alice, recently died. I had not seen her for more than 25 years and felt that we had no relationship. Because we had no real relationship, I did not believe that her death would affect me very much. To my surprise, I found myself grieving over her death. When I talked to my brothers and sisters, I found that they too, grieved her loss. During this grieving I realized that my relationship with Alice was a great gift that I had neglected. Of course, I told myself, that if I had an opportunity to redo things I would’ve done things differently. I would have maintained contact and shared stories with her. Unfortunately, with her passing, I lost the opportunity to really appreciate my sister.

The challenge for me, and I hope for you, is that you will use my loss as an opportunity to see your relationships as gifts to be appreciated and celebrated.

I also would like to challenge you to take this opportunity to explore other neglected gifts that God has provided. Jesus is the greatest gift of all. The Holy Spirit provides us gifts of joy, kindness, love, and hope. The church provides us a place to enjoy our fellowship with others. When we think of church as a gift, we are more likely to embrace these relationships. It reminds us that baptism, communion, marriage, love, and hope are gifts from a loving God.

Finally, as we begin to accept and recognize that God is the greatest giver of gifts, we will develop a renewed attitude of appreciation and thankfulness.

I believe that the single most important activity that we can do is to attend church. It is a time that we renew our relationships with others. It is time that we collectively worship and praise God’s and recognize the many gifts our creator has provided. It is a time to witness to our faith and commitment to our sisters, our brothers, our church, and our loving God. 


If you want to hear more about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, please come and worship with us.

We will worship at the Fontana United Methodist Church during December 2023.

We will worship at the Parker UMC during January 2024.

We will worship at the Beagle UMC during February 2024.

All Sunday services are at 10 a.m. 

All are welcome to worship in God’s House.  

Dr. Bascom Ratliff  (913-710-5748)

Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches

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