As I’m writing this, there are people coming into the next room where there are toys displayed on a table for the visitors to see as they walk in. Refreshments are available for enjoyment. Our visitors are met with “Merry Christmas!” and numerous other greetings to make them feel welcome. It’s an inviting environment. These visitors have fallen on hard times. Circumstances have led them to a point of realizing the need to ask for assistance so they can see joy on the faces of their children Christmas morning. A single mother is there and instructed to “shop” through the mountain of toys to find what is appropriate for her child/children. As she shops, you can clearly see the flurry of emotions on her face; pride, needs vs wants, thankfulness, etc. After a brief moment of silence, someone tugs on her shirt sleeve and says “We’re just kidding. IT’S ALL YOURS.” Suddenly, the tears began to flow as words are no longer needed or found. Gratitude is obvious. Hope has come in the form of someone caring/loving enough to take time out to invest in a family that most have never even met. Just a desire to do what’s right.
You can’t help but notice the diversity. Different ages, races, genders, lifestyles form an eclectic mix of society who are all invited to share in the festivities. Some live under bridges. Some drive up in nice cars/SUVs. Either extreme makes it difficult to not cast judgement. Why does someone sometimes choose to live as an “urban camper”? What does someone who drives a new Suburban know about being needy? Have we truly taken the time to know and have an understanding of current events that led them here? “Love thy neighbor.” isn’t exclusively for those you choose to surround yourself with or necessarily agree with. As we do this, we have learned that, sometimes, the urban camper actually has money but also has an intellectual deficiency that prevents him/her from making wise choices with that money. Sometimes, we meet individuals or people that have been hard workers all of their lives, only to be met with an injury or devastating setback that has left their bank account dry. Either way, the need is great.
In the grand scheme of things, we’re ALL invited to share in a celebration which is the birth of the Messiah Jesus Christ. Most of us come to the table expecting to receive only so much. “Much of what?” you might ask. GRACE. Ravi Zacharias once said “You can’t base your appetite for grace off of one taste. It’s not a plate of sushi to sample only to push back from the table to say “I’ve had enough.” after only one bite.” THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. Just when you think you have any sort of understanding of what it is to give grace, you’re still faced with the challenge of receiving it. You see, grace is defined as a gift freely given to those who are undeserving. Suddenly, we’re faced with the fact that no matter how good we try to be, there’s still junk in our lives that leave us flawed, defiled or just plain “boogered up”. It always eventually comes out. “BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 4-7).
Some will come to the table to take then push back from the table discontent in what they receive. Others will come to the table, completely broken, to be filled then lifted up to learn that there are new levels of contrition that are often prompted by a relationship with Lord Jesus. God the Father invites you to the most joyous of celebrations in the birth of His son Jesus where His life is given freely to those who will receive it. It’s a lowly life of servanthood where, when we make a choice to be contrite/broken/lowly and don’t consider ourselves above someone else, that He lifts us up for His glory. It’s life changing and it’s life giving. I’ll leave you with a Christmas wish to ponder; PEACE ON EARTH AND GOODWILL TOWARD MEN.