The Real of Christmas

It happened in the past, but I was there, and the memory of the faces and more of the atmosphere remain clear in my mind. It is a Christmas story, not only because there was a Christmas tree in the room, and because it was mere days before the 25th of December, but because the happening was of love, of human pathos and need, of giving…and receiving.

We knew something was wrong when the new people missed two Sundays in a row and then they didn’t show for another mid-week function. We called and learned the story; a story of almost no work, utilities being shut off, prized possessions pawned, dark depression, embarrassment…and Christmas was in a few days and a small child was involved, as was an elderly parent.

The pastor made a phone call. “Don’t you think we should assist them? Shouldn’t we take money from the church to help them out of this jam?”

The pastor and the person listening both knew there was no abundance in the church accounts, and that in the near future there were obligations for every penny that had been banked, but is this not Christmasis this not what the church teaches…is this not a challenge to our faith…is this not opportunity to reveal Jesus to hurting people?

From a file cabinet, we took the small checkbook, and the pastor wrote a check for $500.00. We drove to their house, and when they opened the door, it was obvious they were surprised, and after they asked us in, she scurried about, speaking thoughts of an unkempt home (which it really was not). “Sit down, here. Please sit,” they spoke.

The man was standing now, and after a time of small talk, the pastor walked over, drew from his shirt pocket the check, and said, “Here, we’ve brought a little money to help you out.”

Stock-still, the man stared. There was no speech in him. He gazed long into the pastor’s face. “No, no, I can’t do that.”

He continued to look at the pastor, his sight locked into his face, as he persisted in his refusal of help: the pastor pressed him to take the money.

“No, I can’t do that,” the simple modest man protested.

Trembling and crying, the wife spoke. “I didn’t tell you our problems so you would give to us,” she said to the pastor’s wife. “We didn’t have this in mind…not at all.” Her eyes were red-rimmed with purple shadows beneath. Her face was pale.

“We know…we understand. We know you weren’t asking for money.”

The man now threw his arms around the man with the check. “Oh, Pastor, Pastor.” He still had not brought himself to take the check, but pulled himself back and, again, stared long into the eyes of his pastor.

I wept, as I watched.

“Here, you must take it,” the pastor insisted, and at last the check had been transferred.

That precious man again wrapped the pastor in his long arms, exclaiming, “Pastor, oh Pastor.”

Soon we left.

As lights twinkled on the Christmas tree in a 2113643703_03377eef6fsimple living room one afternoon in the past, as people wept together and loved each other, as they gave and received, I think I heard a faint rustle–as of angel wing.

4 thoughts on “The Real of Christmas

  1. I have read both your comments, Sis. Buxton and the story of woundedlily and was moved to remember a sight many years ago. Dana and were working with a young couple to help establish them in the church. He was out of work and mowing yards for a little income. The wife stayed at home. One evening as we parked our cars and started toward the church doors, the Pastor called his name and motioned him to come to where he was. In just a brief moment he returned to me and his wife. The young man had tears in his eyes and a Hundred dollar bill in his hand. “What do I do with this,” was his question. “Take it, thank God and spend it wisely was my replay.
    Over the years I have tried to see those less fortunate that myself. When I fell that prompting from deep within, I do the best I am able to be “The arm of the Lord.”

    May the ture spirit of Christmas live as long as man!
    Mervi

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  2. woundedlily

    Shirley, yesterday we called to make arrangements to pick up our youngest grandchild. I told them they could bring him over after he ate supper. My daughter-in-law said they didn’t have any food in the house. Our son hurt himself in September when he fell 12 feet to the ground and he is still out on workmen’s comp. He took a cut in pay plus he worked on the weekends for himself. My daughter-in-law has always received overtime in her job – but that stopped months ago.

    I was ashamed that we did not recognize the need long before this. We went home before we picked up our grandson and loaded five grocery bags of food, which included lots of meat etc.

    She was so happy to get the food. When I look back, I should have had the perception to ask questions to see how they were doing. It was a lesson for me to learn. Maybe it will help others as well. Someone so close to you might need help and they haven’t told anyone. My daughter-in-law’s cabinets were indeed empty.

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  3. Michael, in general, I believe all agree that giving is an admirable trait, and that not only are the needy blessed, but, to the giver, is returned ultimate joy.

    A general gift is wonderful–a dropped bill in a Salvation Army Kettle, a check made to United Way, a Christmas for Christ church offering, a gathering of gifts for underprivileged children in the city–all good, all wonderful. But there is just something different about knowing of a person’s particular need, and being able to supply that. There’s nothing like it in this world.

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  4. Michael

    This follows the great example you wrote about earlier this week about Mary giving birth to our Lord Jesus in a humble manger. She gave the most precious gift ever given to man.It is truly more blessed to give than receive. Merry Christmas to all.

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