Around Christmas last year, I blogged a post entitled “The Un-merry Side of Christmas.” Here is the post in it’s entirety along with an update at the end.
The Un-merry Side of Christmas.
I awoke this morning with a heavy heart. For some, Christmas isn’t a time of laughter and cheer. Despite what the world portrays on TV commercials, many will not be sitting around a big, bright tree drinking egg nog and unwrapping gifts. Some will spend their day on the street with nowhere to go. Lord willing, some of them might get lucky enough to end up at a homeless shelter where volunteers are providing meals. And it’s not only the homeless I’m talking about.
There are so many people who have lost loved ones and have a difficult time during any holiday season. It’s never easy to lose those we love, whether it be from medical reasons, or evil walking into an elementary school and shooting children. The loss is hard and magnified by those special days when family and friends join together to celebrate. The absence of a special person is glaring when the table is set for a holiday meal.
I know most Christians focus on the birth of Christ as the “reason for the season”, but we still exchange gifts as per the tradition. There’s usually something about Christmas that invokes a tingle of excitement within me. I don’t know if it’s the music, the crisp smell of winter in the air, or the beautiful decorations and lights. I’m just not feeling that this year.
For the last two years, we have volunteered with an inner city youth ministry called One7. For those of you following my blog, you have probably heard about One7. On a daily basis, we see people who are lost, hurting, and have no hope. We do what we can to help, but sometimes it feels like we just can’t do enough. Sometimes, we get a reminder of why we do what we do. Yesterday was one of those times.
We went to the apartment of a family whose children come to One7. There are six of them, ages 14 down to a couple of toddlers. We arrived to find the apartment utterly trashed. Toys, garbage, books, and clothing scattered all over the floor inside and outside as well. The temperature was in the 40′s, and they were running around outside with no shoes or jackets on. Their mom left a while ago, and their dad has been gone on a job for two days. He just left them all alone to fend for themselves.
After talking with the oldest, who just turned 14 on Friday and has to be a mom to her younger siblings, we found out that they have not had any food in the house for several days. I looked in the refrigerator, and it was empty except for a jug of milk. These are kids who come to One7 and run around and play like they don’t have a care in the world. People just don’t know the suffering and pain others are going through.
These are things that completely break my heart and wreck me to the very core of my being. We are to be a light to this world so full of darkness and despair. People don’t need gifts, hot chocolate, and jingle bells.
They need love.
A year has passed, and God has done some amazing things with the children I wrote about in that post. Soon after this was written, we met with the parents and worked out a plan to take care of the kids. They are now all living with different One7 staff members. We have the oldest, Yomira, living with us. It has been year of crazy roller coaster rides, but God is definitely working in her life.
God orchestrated a miracle which has allowed us to put Yomira in the same Christian school our two girls are attending this year. She was being bullied on a daily basis in public school, so this has been a nice change for her. She is now in a place where teachers take the much needed time to explain things in more detail. Yomira struggles mainly with English and Vocab, but the teachers are doing their best to make it an easier process.
I know that people say the reason for the season is the birth of Jesus, and it’s not all about gifts under the tree. Most of us know that Christ wasn’t born in December. We should be celebrating His birth every day of our lives. His birth, death, and resurrection are three things that have given us the freedom in grace that we will never deserve.
I often wonder if Mary truly realized what happened in that stable, surrounded by filth and the smell of animals. To physically be able to not only touch, but to hold Him, kiss His forehead, and look directly into the eyes of Jesus gives me chills to even think about. Did she understand the magnitude of responsibility that God put upon her? He sent His only son, the king of all kings, to take on a normally imperfect human form and endure life on Earth. He then willingly walked the long road to Calvary with a wooden cross upon His back, knowing He would take on all the sin of the world.
This Christmas, while most of the world is worrying about what presents they will receive, let’s cross the social lines and barriers to create new traditions. Hang out with the homeless. Take food to the hungry. Buy clothes for the poor. Show the love of Christ to those who have no hope. Be a shining light in this world of commercialism and darkness.
Most of all, don’t wait for that one certain day of the year to celebrate the birth of Christ. Live every day in honor of that gift.
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Have a blessed day.