Masks are optional.
The Reverend Dr. John Callahan is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Princeton Theological and Pittsburgh Theological Seminaries. He served as associate pastor in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and as pastor of the Clinton United Presbyterian Church in Saxonburg, PA. He began his ministry with Morrow Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 4, 2008.
John served on an administrative commission of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and the Good Shepherd Clinic Board of Directors of Morrow, GA. He also served for six years on the Examinations Committee of the Presbytery, which admits pastors into membership of the Presbytery. He currently serves on the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and as a Pastor Nominations Committee Liaison to Stockbridge Presbyterian Church.
John’s wife, Tamara, is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and served as Sunday School Superintendent and Moderator of the Presbyterian Women of Morrow Church. She participates in the Sunday School as a teacher of our fourth and fifth graders and in the music program of Morrow Church, playing the piano and singing in the choir. She and John have two children, Parker and Amanda. Parker graduated from Union Grove High School and is enrolled at the University of Maryland with a focus on architecture. His talent is the trumpet, which he plays during Sunday worship. Amanda is a Sophmore at Valdosta State University. She shares her talent of singing in our church. She joined the Children’s Choir of Spivey Hall for five years and sang and danced for her school through the Advanced Women’s Chorus and Union Groove.
I read a wonderful devotional from ChristianityToday.com, and I felt the need to share it with you. It is called The Humble Gift, by LaTonya Taylor. Enjoy and have a Mighty Christmas (merry in old English means mighty)!
I sat near the back of the sanctuary as the soloist made his way to the stage. He looked to be around 16 with a preoccupied expression on his face. He sat down behind a music stand, adjusted his papers, and gently placed his bass guitar on his lap.
He then sang the familiar song The Little Drummer Boy. It’s about a little boy who visits the newborn Jesus, and realizing that he has no gift to honor this baby king, the boy offers what he does have: the gift of his ability. He asks if he can play a drum solo.
My heart was moved as the soloist sang the final lines of the song, where the baby Jesus responds to the drummer boy's gift: I played my best for him … then he smiled at me.
In many ways, this singer demonstrated the beautiful truth of this story. He was humbly dressed in a baggy sweater and khakis. His voice was soft and a little tentative. He looked down at his music the whole time. When the song was over, he simply gathered his music and walked to the back of the stage so the choir could file in. I was moved by his humility, by his gentle, quiet spirit. This simple, tentative rendition of the song was his gift to God. It was beautiful. And it was enough.
The Bible doesn’t mention the story of the little drummer boy and, as far as we know, it isn’t true in the literal sense. But the writer of this beautiful song knew a deeper truth: that God is pleased when we give him our best.
Think of what the songwriter was trying to convey. A simple boy, like any one of us, played a loud, clattering, startling, ear-assaulting drum solo as a gift to a baby? It came from a pure heart. The smiling Christ-child sensed the purity of the young man's heart and responded with his own gift—the beaming face of God, the approval and gratitude of the tightly swaddled Almighty. Thank you. That was beautiful. What you brought Me was enough.
In many ways, Jesus was kind of like the drummer boy, and like the soloist I saw at church. Isaiah 53:2 says that Jesus wasn’t beautiful or stunning or especially majestic—that he had “no beauty of majesty in his appearance to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” In fact, a lot of people missed the chance to get to know Jesus, because he seemed so ordinary.
But he was God's extraordinary gift, someone who came to wear a body like we do, to have a heart that knew abandonment, loneliness, betrayal and pain. He came to be bruised and misunderstood, to take a punishment beyond what our human hearts and bodies could withstand. He came to bring forgiveness and joy and peace and healing and hope and the promise of a perfect eternity.
My hope is that sometime during the rush and excitement of this season you’ll have an experience like the one I had during that song. I hope that you’ll see or hear something that makes your heart quiet and overflow the way mine did. That you’ll have a humble moment when you can offer a silent prayer to God: Thank you. You are beautiful. What You gave us is more than enough.
Peace in Christ, Rev. Dr. John