It’s supposed to be the season of holidays, giving thanks, experiencing the hope of the coming Christ child, and of sharing gifts – we all know the song – It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
But what if you’re unable to provide a peaceful Thanksgiving because you and your children had to leave your home for fear of an abusive husband? How can you give thanks with nothing?
And how do you have a Merry Christmas when you’ve lost your job of ten years, traveled across the country with your wife and three kids, only to find out that the “friends” you were going to stay with are cooking meth in a rundown trailer?
Or you’ve lost your wife and best friend of 40 years, along with her disability check, and your power is about to be shut off. Or you’ve spent all of your Social Security check to get into housing only to find that the landlord won’t fix the heater in the 29 degree cold until everyone pays rent next week.
How can it be the hap-happiest season of all when your past mistakes, shame, and prison record are keeping you from finding work and you’re alone freezing in a tent?
At Genesis and Central United Methodist Church we see that these six weeks of joy and peace are for many a time of struggle and doubting if God even cares about them. So we give from the heart and from our abundance – but why?
- It makes us feel good: To provide a full Thanksgiving to a family, or to present gifts for Christmas to three homeless, terrified, and desperate kids fills us with joy. Central and Genesis members have given over 200 coats and blankets to those in need, offered housing assistance to weary travelers looking for a new start, and prepared a full Christmas for many families through our Good SAM and Actions and Truth ministries -and these expressions of love are a celebration of giving happily from our blessings.
- It’s the right thing to do: It’s a social justice and equity issue when people are struggling with nothing. The early Christian church addressed the direct command of Jesus to care for those in need by sharing everything (Acts 2:44) and providing for the least of these as if they were giving to Christ himself (Matthew 25:40). So we give heaters and electric blankets to our neighbors overwhelmed with grief and miserable in the cold. We fill up the gas tanks of hard working fathers who found a good job within three days of praying and meeting with us. Praise the Lord! And we give propane heaters, phone cards, and bus passes to help make sure our veterans are not being treated like discarded animals in the woods.
- Because God is a giver: Our Father in heaven loves to give good things to His children. He rejoices as we find green pastures and still waters, and lavishly gives out of His abundance as we return home to Him. God is love (1 John 4:16), love gives joyfully, and to be like God, we give freely as He did (Matthew 10:8). It’s all a gift from God: the creation in which we move, breathe, and have our being in God; the life and health we cherish; the grace we are enveloped in and carried by; the hope that is within us; the faith and salvation we treasure and can never earn. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…(James 1:17)
- Because we have the greatest gift to give: God gave His son to us out of love (John 3:16). Emmanuel with us, a baby King to one day rule and reign forever, a Prince to offer peace and reconciliation with God, a Lord and Savior as the perfect expression of God’s infinite love for all His children. So as we wrapped the 314 presents the late Judy Welch purchased for children, we prayed that the families would enjoy them – but also want them to know of the indescribable gift of Jesus. As we gave food, clothing, diapers, and housing assistance we invited each person to come to Genesis and experience the love of God, and to worship the Christ child that was given for us all.
Heavenly Father, we praise you for your eternal love given to us in your Son – may we grasp how deep and how wide, trustworthy and everlasting, your love is. Lord, soften our hearts to receive the Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor into our lives, and give us your Holy Spirit so we can freely love and give Jesus as a gift to all the people in our lives. In His grace, by His power, and in His glorious name, Amen.
Local Outreach Coordinator