Pastor Larson’s Corner: Receiving gifts

Pastor Larsons Corner

I recently received a phone call from a college friend of mine who asked me to help out with our 55th class reunion. After I agreed to serve on one of the committees, he told me that his mother recently celebrated her 100th birthday. I know his mother well because when I was on internship she adopted our little family. She often took us out to dinner following worship on Sunday morning, and she continually showered our two-year-old son with gifts. I told my friend to greet and thank her for me. He said that earlier, when he has told her he would be talking to me, she’s asked him to thank me for all we did for her during that year of internship.

It amazed me when he said this, because all we ever did for his mother was accept her kind invitations and many gifts. It made me realize once again that sometimes accepting and receiving gifts with enthusiasm and joy can be a real gift to the giver. When we accept someone’s gifts, we give them the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. I know that it’s hard to think of gratefully receiving gifts as a virtue. Nevertheless, it brings great joy to people when they see their gifts received with gratitude, thanksgiving, and joy.

In the same way, when we receive and accept God’s free gift of salvation and life, we bring joy into God’s heart. God rejoices with us when He sees how much it means to us that we have been set free from the power of sin and death. God rejoices with us when our hearts are filled with hope because of God’s great gift of eternal life. Just letting God be good to us doesn’t seem like a sufficient response on our part, and yet, because it gives God such joy, it is exactly what the Gospel calls us to do.

Pastor Larson’s Corner is written by Jerry Larson and appears weekly in the Norwegian American Weekly.

Pastor Jerry Larson retired to his cabin in Zimmerman, Minn., after 39 years in parish ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 2011 he published a book entitled “Speaking the Word Freely: Writing with purpose, preaching with power.” Contact him at

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 21, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.