A Message from Pastor Craig: 12-18-2022

In the coat closet right by the front door of my grandparent’s house, placed right next to the old Carom board, was a box with my name on it.  The box was about two feet tall and quite narrow.  It looked brand new, and could have been taken as straight from the store save for my name being prominently written on it.  Somebody, whether me or some other family member, placed that box there when I was about 5 years old, and it stayed there as long as I can remember.

The box, as you might guess, had a toy in it.   And again, you won’t be surprised to find that it was a vehicle.  The box had a toy airport tanker truck with the Texaco label branded on the side.  Most uniquely, you could ride this truck.  And when you put pressure on the cab, it would turn to the right or left.  A boy that looked a lot like me was pictured riding it, leaning on one side so as to turn the wheels.  Proudly the box proclaimed that this feature was the “first on a toy.”

Neither my Mom nor I know what happened to that truck in later years.  Throughout my childhood, I delighted in seeing that toy in the closet of that beloved home in Altoona, PA.  Too big to fit in our VW Bus when we drove to Costa Rica, it sat untouched for the years that we were away.  And while I couldn’t ride it by the first time we came back to the States, I still delighted in pulling it out, driving it around the (then apparently much bigger) living room, and then parking it back in the box and the closet.  I was an older teenager when I finally just smiled at the box without pulling it out.

So last summer, up in Maine, Janice and I weren’t so much “antiquing” as we were taking a walk in an Antique Mall.  We do that a lot.  Those malls can be big, always have bathrooms, and provide a most interesting context for a walk.  The antiques used to be of bye-gone days, requiring some imagination or questions to figure out what the pieces were.  Now, not so much.  We tend to recognize the antiques nowadays.  A rotary phone for instance.  Our kids never heard the tic-tic-tic-tic-tic of those phones.  We not only recognize the objects, but remember the sounds too!

And so there, in Maine, on a bottom shelf, was an unblemished box of a Texaco Jet Fuel Truck.  The smile of the grandson in Altoona came over me, and I had to open the box, just to see if the truck itself matched the condition of the box, which it did.  I didn’t tell Janice, but I looked for my name on the box, it was that close a match.  It didn’t.  But I still loved seeing it.

Fast forward to last week.  My daughter-in-law came into the house bearing birthday gifts, one of them quite large.  After supper, and after a lot of serious unwrapping and unpacking, out came the Texaco tanker from Maine. 

Janice had clandestinely purchased the truck after we left, had it shipped to my son’s house, and there it was!  That Altoona grandson smile came again, and while it is a little more prominently displayed now, the truck sits ready to elicit a smile whenever opened.

This is the season of giving gifts.  Not always do we get to give such nostalgic gifts.  But they can be thoughtful.  Janice worked hard to keep the truck a secret all these months.  And the surprise had as much to do with the smile as the truck itself.

That forethought, as awesome as it was for me, pales in comparison to the forethought God had in the gift He presented at Christmas so long ago.  The Apostle Peter said that “God chose him as your ransom long before the world began” (1 Peter 1:20).  Now that’s a long time to wait for the surprise!  But Oh! the value of the gift!  We can’t describe our reaction as a mere smile – it is a reaction of joy, just as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that first Christmas night so long ago.

Are you ready for Christmas?  I am.  This has been a great Advent season. 

Merry Christmas!


Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!  1 Corinthians 9:15