Look for the true gifts of Christmas by REV. LAURIE TENHAVE-CHAPMAN First Congregational Church, UCC Rockford On a blistering hot day this past summer, I was waiting at a red light in my air-conditioned car when a lean young man jogged past the traffic. With a natural orange “fro” bobbing as he ran, he was clad only in a pair of running shorts. His thin muscular frame was glistening with sweat. “God bless you,” I murmured out loud to him in my car. Such commitment to fitness I could not imagine. I was struck by the different stages in life. There was a period when I made time for working out. I was single or newly married without children and could more easily carve out the time. Now, four children, one career and 30 years later, I allow any number of demands to take precedence over my physical fitness routine. Our priorities change one way or another over time. The challenge is to ensure that our commitment to maturing in the faith keeps growing and isn’t pushed aside. Fitting everything else in around our relationship to God is constantly a struggle. But, if we persevere, we will stand out as an example of holy living as greatly as did this young jogger who flashed by me on a hot summer day. In the midst of the Christmas bustle, as tempers flare and patience is worn thin, we would do well to model for the world the love of the One around whom this holy day centers: Jesus. As we stand in line, untangle and hang the outdoor lights, and check things off our lists, may we lead our lives in a way that prompts others to open their Bibles, to bow their heads in prayer, to go back to church or talk to a neighbor in faith. The day that jogger swept past me I got on the elliptical machine! I was inspired. Let’s inspire others to look for the true gifts of Christmas: the joy, peace, love and hope of Jesus Christ.