In my Advent devotion, I encountered this thought: “When we surrender to God’s interruptions, we can rest in the knowledge that He always has a higher purpose for our lives.” God reminded me of another Christmas interruption …
To the best of my recollection, it was just after noon on December 23. I was just winding down my day at the church office. Since our congregation didn’t do a Christmas Eve Service, I didn’t have to prepare for that. We did an evening Candle and Carol Service earlier in the week. The poinsettias from the poinsettia display had been delivered to the shut-ins, and gifts had been distributed from the Deacon Fund. I was hoping to have a good handle on my next Sunday message before I left. My plans to have a “relaxing” Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Bev and other family members was about to happen. Then the phone rang …
Bev took the call. It was Joan, the Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She needed some help. Their organization and the Salvation Army had distributed all their Christmas baskets, and she had just discovered three families that really needed help for Christmas. Could our congregation help? I don’t recall if Bev placed her on hold and asked me the question or just responded, “Yes.” At any rate how could we turn down Joan? She had helped so many people that we had referred to her.
So here is a list of three “families” who needed food and any other help we could give them before Christmas. I knew that it was going to be my job to deliver whatever we could put together. I was not happy about the situation … why couldn’t people have planned ahead and put their name in for a basket? Why did they have to interrupt my well planned day? I groused to God and to Bev; but I knew what Jesus would do, and I was supposed to be one of His followers. I would do it, but I wouldn’t be happy about it!
Fortunately, there was food in the church’s food pantry which could be supplemented with gift cards provided by the Deacon Fund that still had money in it even after all it had done already for Christmas. I think there were still some poinsettias from the display. So we gathered all that God had provided, and I set out to find three families in different parts of South Bend in the days before a GPS.
It’s been quite a few years since this happened; but I remember two of the three situations distinctly. One family was an elderly man and woman of color. He had kidney failure, and she was his caregiver, who helped him do peritoneal dialysis at home each night. The second family that I remember had a child with serious health condition, and the prognosis didn’t look good. The third family was in a similar situation of need. At each home, I got a warm grateful reception, and an opportunity to bring Good News and express God’s care for them in a tangible way and through my prayers for them.
It was such a moving experience that it was all I could do to contain my tears of repentance and joy until I was in my car after the last stop and headed home for a warm supper. Once again God had interrupted my day to express His love to people who were struggling, and I had become both blessing and blessed.