She was a mother with five children, the oldest nearing high school graduation, the youngest around six - four boys and one girl. Hardship was no stranger to her as she had grown up on a farm during the Great Depression. During the Second World War she married and gave birth to her firstborn, a son. Four others followed over the next ten years. At the end of the war her husband came home and life seemed to show promise. It was not to last.
Over time things spiraled out of control for her family as her husband fell into an alcoholism that fueled threats and violence, leaving scars that remain tender to this day. One evening she was forced to flee the house with the younger children. With no place to go they spent the night in the family car on a dirt road out in the country. Her address became well known to local law enforcement as officers made more than a few trips to their home. Her husband became a frequent resident at the city jail and on the local penal farm.
Around 1960 the family moved into a small red brick house in a newly developing neighborhood. A breaking point was reached and her husband left, abandoning her with the children. It was almost Christmas time. What does a mother do when Christmas is approaching, she has five mouths to feed, and she has no job and no money to buy food, much less presents for the children? The situation was bleak.
Shortly before Christmas there came a knock at her front door. Upon opening it she was met by a small group of visitors from the little church she and her family attended. As her unexpected company entered the living room their arms were loaded with large paper bags filled with groceries and presents for the children. Her youngest son, at the time a shy eight-year-old, remembers to this day a small toy airplane he received that night. It is his most memorable Christmas ever. His mother was overcome with emotion at this unexpected kindness showered on her family.
In a few days we will be celebrating Christmas. Should you have the means and opportunity, I would encourage you to show kindness to someone less fortunate. For each of us, no matter our own situation, there is always someone less fortunate. Your compassion may result in a life-changing memory and bear sweet fruit in the years to come.
The greatest gift ever given was born out of the limitless compassion of the Creator of all things. He has seen our sad, broken lives. He is grieved by the pain we inflict upon ourselves and others. He knows the emptiness of our existence, even though we fill our lives with the toys and trinkets of this world. He longs to free us from the guilt and shame we have accumulated by our countless transgressions and bring us wholeness of heart, soul, and mind. He wants us to abandon our wanderings and come home.
Two millenia ago God gave his Son as the demonstration of his love for you and me. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That's what we celebrate at this time of the year. The Babe in the manger became the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Won't you let him have yours?