Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas on Purpose: remember the forgotten

We had a fun opportunity this week.  Through some home school buddies we had a chance to visit an assisted living facility.  I know that sometimes these places aren’t really all that fun to go to, but this was different somehow.  And once I stopped crying I knew that this little place on the south side of town would be a regular stop for this little family of ours. 
I cry because God has birthed compassion and love in me for the elderly, especially those that are left alone and forgotten.  I cry because I know they have so many stories to tell.  I cry because there aren’t enough people who are willing to stop and listen to those stories, however jumbled or dementia riddled they are.  I cry because it makes me sad, and I think it makes God sad too.  But thankfully there are people like the folks who run the place I got to visit this week.  People who love Jesus so much that it oozes out of them into all they do.  And these people thought it would be fun to gather a bunch of kids, throw some art supplies at them and let create masterpieces for the residents to have. 
It felt like a sacred two hours for us.  We met some amazing people, who have lived a lot more life than I have.  They were beautiful.  Really. 
So on this day we stopped.  We remembered those who are sometimes forgotten.  That’s God’s heart, isn’t it?  Especially at Christmas time. 
There are elderly folks who are forgotten; but there’s also orphans, soldiers, prisoners, and more.  In our community there are many chances to give, even if you can’t sit down with them in person like we did.  There are giving trees, or they’re sometimes called angel trees for local children and seniors.  Many business sponsor toy drives for foster children.  Our church adopted 43 local children who need Christmas gifts, as well basic necessities like socks. 
I believe God’s heart swells when we give to those who society might not always notice.  And so we give, not win God’s favor or approval (because we don’t work for that).  But we give because we have been on the receiving end of so much.  We give because it’s the right thing to do, even when we cry through the whole thing. 
James 1:27 reminds us that "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” 
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That is what it’s about.  Making Santa faces to cheer those who might be alone this season.  Extending ourselves to others, not because of what we get back but because it’s what God says is the right thing to do. 
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