Last week our church, through the Deacon’s Fund, helped a family here in town that is staying at the Good Neighbor Homeless Shetler. This family is a woman and a 2 year-old that she is raising for another member of her family. Their car had broken down and the mom had no transportation to and from work. She was walking, in the dark and cold, late at night with the toddler in a stroller until she could get her car fixed. The auto repair place graciously fixed the car so that she could safely get back and forth to work, and released the vehicle back to her before the bill was settled. Now the child and mom had a reliable, safe way to get to and from work – she just needed to settle the bill. The Director of the shelter called us, which is not a usual occurance, and asked if we could help. We paid the bill and on Monday the Director of the Shelter came by with a note for us. The guest does not know who her benefactors are, and so she wrote a note to thank us for our generousity, kindness, and love. Affixed to the outside of the envelope was a handprint cut from paper with the fruits of the spirit on it – Love, Hope, Peace, Faith, and Joy. The handprint is that of the child who no longer has to be out in the dark and the cold while her caregiver walks home from work.
I am grateful for the agencies and organizations in our community that work together to care for those in need. While a $140 car repair bill may not be insurmountable to many of us, for this family, it was. When you are getting back on your feet and working paycheck to paycheck, every little bit helps. Last night, our Deacon’s served almost 100 people at Friendship Table. That is almost 100 people in our community who had a hot meal last night and some to take home with them. They had a chance to come in for a little while out of the 41 degree, rainy weather and spend some time in fellowship and experience hospitality. Our Deacons who had not served in a while were awed by the numbers and the folks who said “Thank you.”
This weekend at the church is our International and Community Christmas Market. We will be open from Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 9:30-2. In addition to the goods from 10,000 Villages, we will also have community agencies with information and opportunities to support their work in the community. In my mind, this is not as much about Christmas shopping as it is being part of a community that affirms we care about those who need us. Jesus was not born in a hospital, but in a stable. He was not dressed in fancy smocked outfits with monagrams on the front, but wrapped in strips of cloth – whatever his parents could find. Last night, as I counted the numbers of men, women, and children standing in line, I had a flash of Jesus being born to folks just like those standing there. Not only to them, but for them. One of our calls as followers of Jesus is to care for those who may not have a place to live or meals to eat. Not only care for them, but also care about them. There is a difference.
Than handrpint is on my desk – I’m having a hard time letting it move to the bulletin board in our office. In this tiny hand are the fruits of the spirit, and the messages of Christ – love, faith, hope, peace, and joy. Looking at that tiny handprint, thinking about those who stood in line to eat, and those who serve them, I see the difference even small actions can make. The hope offered by paying a car repair bill or offering a hot meal without questions, expectations, or judgment. I am grateful to be part of this work, work that lets me find ways to see an infant in a manger every day.