It has been an extremely very busy 3 months in the lead up to Christmas. Busier than I anticipated. Much of my time has been spent on ensuring that the putting together and the distribution of our CareLink Christmas Hampers went smoothly. I am still exhausted after many days and nights attending to stuff – and pushing my aging body too much. But what a privilege it was to have been involved in it at all.
Helping with the Christmas hampers has been one of the biggest joys of Christmases here in Australia since I started working at CareLink almost 10 years ago. I love it. I love joining with others in our church family to bless those in our community who could do with some extra TLC at this time of year. I love seeing the sparkle in the eyes of the recipients. I love being able to give.
Two Thursdays ago, I was in my office at CareLink as usual. It was a day well spent. I felt energised at the end of that long day. It was good to know that all I worked for was finally coming together. That 59 families were blessed this Christmas through the receiving of our hampers and that 145 children would receive gifts that were chosen and wrapped specially for them. (Why 59 and not 60 hampers? Good question. I aimed at 50. 59 was 9 more than 50! Pity we couldn’t stretch it to 60!)
A couple walked in during the morning. Nothing new there. The man was polite enough and gave me his name. I scanned it on my list and chatted to them, flashing my 32. There was something different and unnerving though. His wife stood with her arms folded across her chest staring at me. I felt surprised. Her attitude communicated to me that I was doing her a favour by giving her a Christmas Hamper. My smile didn’t get a response from her. Her husband too seemed a little ill at ease. No smile from him either.
I did the best I could as I gave them their hamper. But I felt dampened by the look in her eyes and her whole demeanor of disapproval. As I closed the door sadly behind them, I spoke to her in my thoughts. ‘If you only knew how hard I worked to give you that hamper, lady…"!
Perhaps the man wanted the hamper but his wife didn’t. Perhaps she found it hard to accept the kindness of strangers. Whatever it was – it left a sad feeling inside me. A few minutes later, the CareLink door opened again. This time a family walked in. The lady looked very tired and dishevelled. She was obviously finding life difficult. Oh – but she could smile. Her husband looked tired too. Their 12 year old daughter accompanied them.
As they chattered with me, my heart lifted. This was what Christmas was all about. Connection. Communication. One heart reaching out to another. This family seemed far more down and out than the couple who’d just left. But what a difference in their responses. They were very friendly and with their open heart to heart communication, they blessed me. When I moved to touch the youngster as I wished her a happy Christmas, the little girl spontaneously hugged me. I felt warmed from the inside out.
The ingratitude of one family and the gratitude of the other left an indelible mark on me. It raised a question in my mind and in my heart as well. This Christmas, how do I approach God? With folded arms, a stare and a wish for more? Or deep gratitude to Him who has lavished His all on me?
Needless to say God’s Hamper to us this Christmas comes in the guise of a baby. A tiny baby, born in a smelly stable. God become poor so that we through His poverty might become rich. What an amazing gift! A gift that keeps on giving.
Christmas time is such a busy time that often we forget whose birthday it is we are celebrating. Does the Christmas Birthday Person get neglected in our rushing and shopping and partying and celebrating? Does Jesus whom Christmas is all about get even noticed? Does He receive my gratitude?
Oh Lord, help me not miss out this Christmas. Help me ponder again on your amazing love and respond to it today. And every day.
“What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd, I would give a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
Yet what can I give Him, I’ll give Him my heart.”