“and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger; because there was no guest room available for them” Luke 2:7 NIV
Christmas is not about elegant gifts but the simple things in life. It is about providing hope, peace, joy and love to those around you and those in need. I can remember some of the gifts I got as a child, but my most memorable experiences were helping others find the true meaning of Christmas through the presence of Christ. Here are a few examples for classes looking for ways to celebrate Christmas:
1. Spend some time caroling. My first moving experience at Christmas was to go to the ICU in Birmingham as a college student and sing. The nurses suggested we visit a man from the middle east who was struggling after heart surgery with no family. He didn’t understand English, and we were a little hesitant. We began to sing, “Silent Night” and tears began to trickle down with a smile on his face. The nurses were thankful.
We took the young adults at my last church to sing to our shut-ins at a nursing home during Sunday School. We had more than our normal crowd for this event as most of the young adults had been taught by this woman in preschool! It was a great experience.
2. Help someone in need with the Christmas jar. This idea was one we discovered a few years ago after reading Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright. It is worth the read, but the synopsis is placing your change in your pocket into a jar everyday throughout the year. Near Christmas, we decide as a family who needs the money, and we deliver it to their house anonymously! We added a copy of the book with the money to explain what it is about. Hopefully they will get the real spirit of Christmas while reading the book.
3. Consider helping a child at an orphanage or in another part of the world. When the tsunami hit in Haiti, the BGAV waited to understand the needs and discovered several children who were orphaned. We decided to use the money given by many gracious BGAV churches to start an orphanage and a school! (You can adopt a child by talking to Nicole Prillaman at 1-800-255-2428.) Whether it is through us or a local agency, this is a way to help a child in need and keep up with them year by year.
4. Prepare a meal for a shut-in and have dinner with them. There are many people alone during the holidays. Make plans to prepare dinner and go spend time with someone who needs a friend. Reverend Scott Curtis with Providence Baptist in Red House, VA shared this idea with me. Their church provided this service a couple of months ago for their Shut-ins and others in the community.
Jesus was born in a stable in the lowliest of situations. If you want to help your class experience the true meaning of Christmas, lead them to someone in real need this Christmas season. Each Christmas I remember a former staff member (Jay Hurd) at First Baptist in Talladega, Alabama who penned these words.
Not richly wrapped; no foil or paper bright, in an unobtrusive corner, almost out of sight; lay a tiny package under the orphanage Christmas tree; when finally it was found, was the only one left for me. My heart fell with sadness; it was not fair at all. The others grabbed the large gifts, while mine was so very small.
Retreating to a corner, tears welling in my eyes, I didn’t want the others to see me as I began to cry. The paper was so crumpled, the ribbon seemed so old, but through the tear stained wrapping shone the glint of gold. Beautiful golden locket shaped into a dove, the note inside said, “For you child the gift today is love. For several years I’ve come to watch to find a child like you. One that didn’t push and shove the way the others do; Now you need to know me, the mystery to unfold, I wear a golden locket just like the one you hold.”
My eyes flew to the visitors who often brought us goods, a chain of gold around her neck, so elegantly she stood. Years it’s been since she took me home, but the lesson I recall; love remains the greatest gift, but its’ often packaged small.