It’s the epitome of Christmas. We buy things for each other, go caroling, make cookies and candy for our neighbors and co-workers and friends, and strive to “spread good cheer.”
There’s a family I’ve gotten to know well: a dear mother, three girls and a boy, ages 10, 11, 12, and 13, whom I take with me to clubs Monday nights. She called me the other week, humbly asking if I knew of a church or organization who could help her with Christmas gifts for her children. When I brought it up to family members and clubs staff, everyone jumped at the opportunity to help with this “project” and were excited about the chance to give money towards the gifts. But they also reminded me of the risks. The dangers. The caution I needed to use in relating to these people.
At school, the kids have been bringing in money all month to buy Bible story books for children in poor countries around the world–through Christian Aid Ministries. How beautiful… How detached.
We had a dirty, frizzy-haired, talkative old man show up at school one day several weeks ago. He talked a mile a minute as he described to us his plight. His stories didn’t add up logically, and no one trusted him. We sent him away with $5 for the “gas he needed to get to his mother’s house.” [and hoped we’d never see him again.] Today I found out that he showed up at another local Mennonite school, yesterday…with similar complaints/requests. I was asked if I thought this kind of thing should be reported…”this kind of thing is suspect. Walking into our school like that was inappropriate. We need to protect our children.” I sighed and challenged him: “but we’re called to love him as Jesus does! surely Jesus wouldn’t turn him in to law enforcement simply for being a misfit…”
It’s not hard to love Jesus personified as a baby in a manger, but when he shows up as an untouchable, unlovable, untrustworthy person…our spirit of giving and love goes out the window, even though we pretend to be generous and we look like we want to share our Christmas with the “less fortunate”–“we really must have boundaries even on that.” Sick. I’m pretty sure giving from your heart means giving in spite of the risks.
Someone please show me real peace on earth!