I prayed for God to show me what lasting gifts I could give. Gifts that won't be thrown in the trash or given to Goodwill in a year or two, when they're worn out or out-of-style. (Although we can't deny we all love receiving those "temporal" gifts -- they're fun! And we love to bless others in that way when we can.)
So I kept pleading with God to show me how I could give in a special way this Christmas. About then, my neighbor stopped by and said the nursing home where her mother stayed has been asking her for my number. A nursing home and rehab wants us to come and sing to them once a month!
Then He put in my mind to call an acquaintance and ask about help needed in the local soup kitchen. Ends up the man I spoke with was involved with the homeless shelters in DC, same as me. Years ago I was involved in a fulltime ministry to the DC homeless. We had 500 beds throughout the city.
He was familiar with this and we connected right away. I'm sure that was the Holy Spirit bringing it together.
God was so faithful in answering my request. So we'll be feeding the homeless next week, and then again on Christmas Eve.
We'll sing for the lonely shut-ins on Christmas Day.
Maybe we can bring a smile to her face.
At first I thought, Well, don't they get a lot more volunteers around Christmastime? Maybe we should wait until after Christmas, when they probably need the help more. Surprisingly, both places said they actually need more help on Christmas and Christmas Eve -- these are the times when everyone wants to be at home, warm and cozy. Who wants to brave the cold and go hang out with the less fortunate when they could be at home sipping warm cider, singing carols and opening gifts?
So, again, there was my answer. (Mind you, we'll still do the warm cider-singing-gifts-by-the-fireplace thing, just that we don't want that to be the center of Christmas.)
God gave the greatest Gift of all to us, His Son, born lowly in a manger -- homeless and hungry, so that we could have eternal life.
"For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."
The people asked When? When did we see you hungry? They don't remember feeding Jesus, or clothing Him, or taking Him in, or visiting Him in prison. What?! We didn't see you!
God answered: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Jo March, a character in Little Women, said "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents." I agree. What kind of presents are we giving this year? Mostly temporal? Or are the eternal gifts of showing God's love through our time and service on the agenda as well?
Isabel, Pauline and Krista
I'm grateful to God for health and the means to help and serve in these small ways. I think of the blessing it is to our children to expose them to these people; to let them see that not everyone lives like we do. To let them experience that these are people just like us. I want my children to question and think, Wouldn't we want the sincere love and attention and care if it was us?
As John Bradford quoted when he saw a group of criminals being led to their execution,
"But for the grace of God, there go I."
Visit Brenda's for more thoughts and ideas on the holidays.