Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
Our church vestibule, even on normal days during the year, is a lovely thing. Our folks love to stand around and fellowship for long periods of time, so when we built the church we made the vestibule large and comfortable, and thanks to our sweet and talented ladies, it stays beautifully decorated.
During Christmas, though, it takes on an even more amazing air, as it is adorned with a 14-foot Christmas tree. That, combined with the visual effect of the electric fireplace on one wall, gives it a very Norman Rockwell type of a feel.
And then, protruding into all of that, are twelve brown cardboard boxes sitting on an eight-foot folding table.
No, it does not match the decor. And yet it is, in my estimation, the loveliest part of the whole assemblage.
Those boxes are rapidly filling up with coloring books, lotions, brushes, candy, and many more simple gifts. Do not let the coloring books throw you off, though; these boxes are for adults.
Not too far from our home there is an adult special needs care facility of which I have written before in my column. We go there each month to hold a service for them. We play the guitar, sing, and I preach a simple message telling them how much Jesus loves them. The residents are all full grown men and women, but they all have the mentality of very small children, and must be cared for twenty-four hours a day. The gifts in those boxes, things being provided by our church members, are all for them.
Mind you, there is not, nor will there ever be, any tangible benefit our church will ever receive out of any of this. None of them will ever be able to come to church, or put money in the offering plate, or sing in a choir. And this makes the effort exactly what Jesus had in mind…
In Luke 14:13-14 he said, “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
People in his day were no different than people in our own. Their thoughts when giving and doing gravitated toward those who could reciprocate that giving and doing. Jesus wanted them to think more about giving and doing to those who had nothing to offer back, just as he himself would one day give the ultimate gift by dying for sinners who also had nothing to offer back.
When the first glad tidings of Christmas came, it is hard not to notice the low station of those to whom it came. It was not to wealthy kings in palaces but to poor shepherds abiding in the fields that the angels brought the heavenly message.
Each year at this time we are all given a priceless opportunity, the chance to take Christmas to wherever it is needed most. Our church, like many others, also ministers weekly to the homeless, and at Christmas time we go overboard fixing them fancy meals and getting them needed things for their very survival. Once again, there is little to no chance that there will ever be any tangible benefit in so doing.
Christmas is “good tidings of great joy to all people” in the words of Luke 2:10, yes. From the throne to the gutter, Christ has come to and for all, and all are invited to receive him. But the most profound beauty of Christmas is found, not in the gilded castles where it is simply celebrated, but in the tiny rooms of the poor and unknown where it means everything in the world.
Please let me lovingly challenge you. This year at Christmas, do more than you have ever done before for those who have nothing to offer in return. Tend to the homeless, the shut ins, the special needs, the elderly, the poor, and do every bit of it in Jesus’ name. When you are baking that cake, bake a second one for that friend or acquaintance who is struggling with depression. When you are buying clothes for your kids, get some for the kid who is being raised in a struggling, single parent home as well, and give it to the parent to give to the child instead of you getting the credit for giving it. When you are filling out cards to mail, mail one to a police officer too. When you are getting your family meal plans together for Christmas day, invite someone who will be alone at Christmas to come and be part of your family celebration.
Take Christmas to where it is needed most.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org