At Manasquan UMC’s candlelit Christmas Eve services, Dec. 24, the Rev. Guillermo Javier Barroso-Rodriguez preached about the “Impossible Gift,” from GNJ’s Breakthrough worship series “(Im)possible.” But later, he was surprised and deeply moved when his own childhood wish for a once-“impossible gift” was finally fulfilled!
Read his Christmas Eve message, and then read what happened next. It’s an ideal reminder, even during this post-Christmas season of Epiphany, of the power of gifts that surprise and speak love to both children and adults.
“Since I was little, I remember a gift that I dreamed of and could never receive… It was very expensive, and I knew my mom couldn’t buy it… I always dreamed of receiving a LEGO pirate ship. If it was expensive before, imagine how much it costs now…
But my family took it upon themselves, to give us the best gift in the world every Christmas…I remember my hardworking single mother always striving to give us the best by herself, working all the time to support us. Some special gifts from Santa that I still remember were Batman’s plane in the shape of a bat. And my teenage ninja turtles!
One Christmas I asked for some skates; and they gave me a “roller-derby” pair of skates… I got upset because I wanted roller-blades. I remember my first PlayStation in 1996! Awesome!
But much more than those gifts, which were special in their time, I remember and treasure more the gift of a united family—spending time at home, helping my grandmother cook and sharing food with the neighborhood. I remember many “parrandas” (gatherings to sing Christmas carols) that I went to, playing my guitar. They lasted until daylight.
I remember a family in which sometimes there were differences, but there was never a fight or a grudge…I never received that LEGO pirate ship… the gift I dreamed of the most. But I do remember every Christmas being in church celebrating Jesus; and that was the best gift… That’s why I am here today.
I’m not saying it because I’m a pastor. I say this because sometimes we celebrate an empty, sad and vain Christmas; but I remember Christmas with Christ always: Christmases that were plenty, genuine, special and beautiful. My family gave me the best gift: Christ at Christmas!”
Barroso-Rodriguez asked the congregation three questions:
- What would be that dream gift that you never received?
- Have you ever received an impossible gift, or given an impossible gift?
- What feelings did that stir up for you?
An “impossible” childhood wish comes true
Days after preaching this message at the church’s two Christmas Eve services, Barroso-Rodriguez received an incredible surprise. He joyously shared his news with Breakthrough Coordinator Emily Wilton:
When I came back from visiting my brother in Maryland, I had a package waiting for me on the front porch. When I opened it, I couldn’t believe what it was. I received my “impossible gift”!
Dear Lord! I cried like a 7-year-old kid, thanking God for unexpected details like this in ministry that remind us of God’s infinite and unending grace. Wow!
I believe in and use these sermon series. And I recommend them. Keep up the awesome work you do! I know it’s not easy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Javier