Giving is the aerobic activity at Christmastime that has the power to change the world. Folks at Holy Cross Lutheran and Capital Baptist, both in Salem, Oregon had the opportunity to give this year – stretching ourselves in new ways, to participate in the Life Changing power of Giving.
We have been supporting Washington Elementary School, in the Salem-Keizer School District for many years. They are down the street from us, and we love to invite them to our Coat Drive, and to provide bacpacks,etc for many every September. Some of our members volunteer on site, too. We enjoy connecting, and collaborating on the mission to care for and educate the young people of our neighborhood. This year, Suzanne Stephen, who is head of our Faith in Action team was asked to provide a little more than we have in past years for Christmas. She gulped, but said yes. And then Capital Baptist (who suffered a terrible fire this summer and cannot use their education wing – so they’re using our spaces) asked if they could help too. And so we breathed a little easier.
Members of the congregations took names of kids, and an item they needed at Christmas (pants, shirt, shoes and something fun), and did their own shopping. We got a Thrivent Financial for Lutherans action team card to cover the costs of some of the food, and Capital Baptist contributed too. People Shopped. People Wrapped. And then, the day of distribution came.
Folks were lining up at our church before 8:30 am that day, and they just kept coming, picking up their Christmas gifts and food boxes. And they were stunned. The gifts, they knew were coming and the big, overflowing food boxes they didn’t. It was a good day. And God was honored.
You know why I say God was honored? Well, the Christ Child who came at Christmas was a gift. We didn’t deserve it. Humanity had been trying to earn their way to heaven a long time, and we weren’t doing so great at it. And God gave us Jesus, to intercede. To step in. To live and breathe and then suffer and die, as a gift to end our struggle to be good. God’s love is a gift of grace which we do not deserve. So we are called to pass on that gift. Martin Luther (founder of the Lutheran church) said, “God does not need your good works. Your neighbor does.” We have good neighbors, here on Lansing Avenue in Salem. God bless them.
Join us for worship this Sunday, December 22nd, where we will encounter that Gift in a special way, as we learn more about Joseph, the man who raised Jesus. He was a gift, too. Stay after church for our Instant Christmas Pageant won’t you? We especially need Senior Citizens and Kids to be in the production! (No practice, no memorizing needed!)
Merry Christmas, friends