Making Memories by Serving Others


By Rev. Kevin Lester, Sanctuary Campus Pastor

One of the most interesting things to me about Christmastime is how powerfully nostalgic it is for so many of us. As we sing carols, take decorations out of storage boxes, cook holiday meals, and sit around the tree, our minds often drift so easily to memories of the past.

A favorite memory of mine started out as a bad memory but has become one of my favorites. When I was a kid, the church we attended would volunteer to serve a dinner on Christmas at a local shelter. My parents were pretty involved, so, every year they volunteered to help serve, and they brought my sister, my brother, and me along. You might be surprised that between the ages of 5 and 8, I was not excited about this idea. I had waited MONTHS to tear into all those gifts on Christmas morning, and then to finally enjoy all the toys I’d been dreaming of. But, now that they are finally MINE, you’re telling me that I have to put them all down, get dressed, and wave them goodbye as we head out to the Veterans’ Hall for the rest of the day? How can you do this to me, Mom and Dad?!?! I remember being pretty upset.

By the time I was a teenager, though, my feelings had changed. I realized that what my parents were doing was actually pretty cool – they just wanted to offer help to our neighbors who had so little – to love them as Jesus might. Moreover, as a “reward,” they had to put up with three cranky children who gave them grief about it. But, in doing so, they taught all three of us some important life lessons – that our faith in the baby born on Christmas day compels us to love and serve others, even sacrificially. Taking us along probably made serving more difficult, but it meant that we got to see the ministry of the church demonstrated right before us.

So, sure, I used to be upset that my parents had me put away those shiny new toys and go help serve others, but now I see the love and compassion behind it. A bad memory has become a sweet, treasured one.

This Christmas season, I pray that we all continue to seek great ways to serve others – to share and give to those in need. I also pray that, in doing so, we teach and inspire the children and youth among us to become those who love and care like Jesus as well.

May you find Jesus close by this Christmas, even in some unexpected ways.
Pastor Kevin


Magee Campus:
• 8:30am A traditional service of Lessons & Carols
• 10am A traditional service of Lessons & Carols (*This service will be livestreamed.)
• 11am Soup luncheon
• 4pm A “No Rehearsal Pageant” & Blessing the Children
• 8pm A service of candlelight and music, led by the Celebration Singers choir (*This service will be livestreamed.)
• 10pm A service of candlelight, communion, and music, led by the Chancel Choir

Sanctuary Campus: (*Recordings of these services will be posted later to the Sanctuary Facebook page.)
• 10am Service with band & Blessing of the Children
• 5pm No Rehearsal Pageant and Blessing of the Children
• 7pm An unplugged service with classic carols, readings, and candlelight singing of “Silent Night”

*Livestream at or YouTube UMC St. Mark’s AZ. You can also watch the service at a later time.