Just in time for our New Year’s merrymaking: Here’s to repentance! Beat the holiday rush!
Again I groan, “Dang. More defects of character?! Who, moi?”
But here’s a toast to you folks who struggle to do good – not just on Christmas Day (or the significant celebration of your choice). You, who don’t just keep Sweet-Baby-Jesus-in-a-manger-scene.
You, whose Savior isn’t simply, elegantly, coldly sealed in stained-glass windows.
OK, I’m a fan of stained glass and manger scenes. But checking out the scriptures, I read not only of that baby-meek-and-mild, who makes no never-mind. Here’s a challenging, troublesome Jesus. (Music fans, check out singer Jackson Browne’s “The Rebel Jesus.”) The Jesus who raged at the Temple …who chided the hypocrite and the wealthy…who tells me that if I have two cloaks, I should give one to the poor.
Dang. I kinda like my cloaks. And it’s SO easy to forget Jesus in my daily busy-ness: in a market checkout or a packed parking lot (uh, cursing does not count). And do my votes honor humanity, animals, Earth?
Sure, you’ve heard it before: can we keep Christmas in our hearts all year, like the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge? Good works – from sacred AND secular sources – do exist. Here’s only one of MANY examples: Fellowship Community Church, where Rev. Ken Nienke, Missions Director Stephanie Painter and a whole host inspire charity – all year.
Say, FCC’s “Christmas in July” collection for the needy. Or their “Takin’ It to the Streets”: a kinda random-acts-of-kindness round of thirty community service projects, extremely varied.
Or an abbreviated Sunday service, when members filed out to shop for the Salem Food Pantry: a fifteen-ton yield! Or donated money for overseas water-wells.
Or how 2010’s “Operation Turkey Drop” brought feasts to 539 EMT/ ER workers and families in Botetourt and the Roanoke Valley.
Or how, after referrals from Dept. of Social Services, FCC “gave Christmas” to 91 kids in foster care. And, Pastor Ken emailed, it’s also marking success with foster care and adoption initiatives.
And that time congregants donated the very shoes on their feet! “They left a thousand pairs for the Rescue Mission, and Salem / Glenvar schools,” said Pastor Ken. That “fits” FCC’s “One Month to Live” campaign (maybe you saw the yard-signs): “we don’t know how many days we have,” he said. “‘Things’ aren’t important. We want to focus on humility.”
Well, I hope not to ruin the humility, but here’s to ALL you everyday saints – “everyday” (like, “common”) and “every day, not-just-Christmas.” And even if you aren’t signed onto a congregation, somehow I think Jesus smiles when you fill stockings, schoolbags, tummies and hearts. Give shoes and coats and cash. Hammer boards after hurricanes and for Habitat homes. Help recovering addicts. Teach someone to read….
You’ve done this with groups – and as individuals, in secret and off-the-clock.
Here’s to your New Year! And maybe even to newness of life.