In Pastor Reid Matthias’ first week at a new church, he was touched by the generosity of a parishioner – and reminded about the true spirit of Christmas.
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I went fishing with Santa.
During my first week at Para Vista Lutheran Church in SA, Verne approached me and shook my hand.
‘Do you like to fish?’, he asked. Verne is tall, with a white beard, and I guessed he would more likely fit in handing out presents with elves than fishing.
‘Don’t all disciples like to fish?’, I responded in a poor attempt at a joke.
‘I’ll take that as a “yes”. How about I show you how to catch blueys’, he responded, using the local lingo for blue swimmer crabs.
When I arrived at Verne’s house, he was waiting, like St Nicholas stamping his foot for toys to be loaded into the sleigh.
We headed off, and he told me a bit about himself.
‘I don’t wear my teeth when I go fishing’, he said. ‘One time I got seasick and my choppers ended up with some shark, I’m sure.’
‘You get seasick?’ ‘Yup, but I take tablets and wear a little wrist thing. And, here’s the other funny thing – I’m allergic to shellfish.’
I had to pause: I’m going fishing with a toothless, shellfish–intolerant, seasick fisherman. This is awesome!
‘What do you do with the crabs?’, I asked.
‘I give them away. They’re worth about $35 a kilogram. Giving them away makes me very happy.’
Verne was an embodiment of Romans 12:5–8 ‘… If (your gift) is giving, then give generously …’. Without thought for repayment or thanks, he was doing what God has called all Christians to do – use their gifts to broaden the kingdom.
Out on the water, we threw in the nets. Verne pulled one up and it held a brilliant blue crustacean. He grabbed the crab by the pincers and threw it into a bucket.
I hauled up a net. Nothing. Then two more. Nothing. Meanwhile, Father Christmas was pulling in Yuletide gifts.
Finally, I pulled up a net with two big blue crabs!
‘The most I’ve got in one net was five’, Verne said, throwing two more into the bucket.
Journeying back to shore, I recognised true contentment in Verne. He was happy to be sharing his time with someone new. He gave me a great gift. To give was to live.
He truly is Santa Claus. Or, should I say, Santa Claws.
Ouch. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.
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