My church has been organizing to help a homeless family that I'm told was living behind a strip mall near our town. Apparently they fell on hard times due to drug abuse, but have now managed to get sober and are trying to get back on their feet to provide a stable life for their two children. I don't know much about the details, but our minister told us about the family last week, and asked for donations of clothing and once they find shelter, furniture to help these folks get back on their feet.
As of last week things were going pretty well and a small apartment in another church's manse was identified as a possible place for the couple to live while they got jobs and saved enough money to find their own place. It wasn't much, a king size bed was too big for the bedroom, but it was a warm and safe replacement for the alley that they had been living in.
Today was our Christmas pageant at church. PD1 gave the bible reading about Mary and Joseph looking for room and being turned away from the inn. Our minister's wife, herself a minister and director of our youth ministry, had helpfully typed out on a sheet of paper for PD1 to read.
Here's the thing. As she was typing it earlier this week, the other church called and said the couple that we're trying to help couldn't use the manse after all. It seems they aren't married, and you know, that sort of thing isn't allowed. I kind of makes you wonder how people think sometimes doesn't it?
The story of Christmas reminds us that the most humble among us deserve basic goodwill and dignity, not because they might be future kings, but because we're all in this together and we need to help each other out. In fact, if there is one lesson that I've gleaned from 44 years of life it's that nobody does this alone. Nobody.
I'm not writing about this unfortunate circumstance to highlight the intolerance of others, or the hypocrisy of Christians; those are subjects that the religiously intolerant wallow in and frankly I think they say more about those folks than the targets of their ire. No, I'm telling this story today because it is my hope that we all remember our friends, family and the less fortunate this coming week and beyond. I hope that we remember the blessing of life and our obligation to help those that are in need.
Much has been said and written lately about "the war on Christmas". I understand some of these thoughts, and will admit to being annoyed at having to be careful about who I wish a Merry Christmas to; but this is a very minor thing.
The real threat to Christmas, if there is one, is when we forget our obligation to our fellow man. We've all done it; we're in too much of a hurry with our own lives, or can't be bothered by the dirty guy looking for a hand. I'd go so far as to say that it's human nature to look beyond these sad reminders that life is tough, and it can be tougher on some more than others. What better way exists though to spread Christmas cheer? Stop a moment to extend a hand. Buy some gifts for children that will wake up to nothing unless you help. Drop a couple coins in the Salvation Army's bucket. Find out where your local PADs shelter is and mobilize your friends to help.
Christmas doesn't need saving, we do. Buy working to bring hope and love to our fellow man's life we enrich ourselves in the process. Love wins, evil loses and we learn that the greetings of the season can be accepted for the spirit in which it they're offered if not necessarily for the exact words.
Peace be with you.