Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Gift of Giving

Tonight we had a wrapping party which was such fun that I think we'll do it again very soon!
For one thing, I have lots of gifts yet to be delivered to my door so another round of wrapping is in the future. Another reason is that I'm not quite done shopping, though most of the people on my list have a nice (not naughty) check mark that says I know what they're getting! So the hard part is over and it's only December 4th!
Gift selecting, wrapping, and giving is really really really my favorite part about the non-spiritual traditions of our American Christmas holiday. I love looking for something special or hearing a little bird tweet the wishes of a friend or family member. It just feels so good to hit the spot with something personal. There is something more special than gifts though and I've posted a little, here and there, about the small group we're a part of at church.
We like to do volunteer opportunities when we find them so we've helped out at a Convoy of Hope outreach before, swept the floor at a local food donation site, handed out medals at a Special Olympics style event for children and older folks with special needs a few times, but what I think I have come to love the most is finding a local church that feeds the homeless and poverty stricken, every week. This is not only for the holidays or just in the wintertime but all year they serve food, supply groceries and clothing, and offer encouragement and prayer for their individual needs and circumstances.
One morning, I walked into their warehouse building and I was in a particularly grumpy mood, the special kind of grumpy that happens on days when I have had about 5 or 6 hours of sleep. I was thinking that I might just stay for a few minutes if I couldn't find it in me to have a single positive thought. I scolded myself about my selfishness and irritability when I was there, warmly dressed, with gas in my car, food on my table every single day, and a safe and warm home every night. My mood wasn't lightened but I pushed up my sleeves and walked through the door. Over the course of the next couple of hours I was greeted with faces that were filled with delight and gratitude. These were no grumpy people come to discuss their dire circumstances, these were people that were happily eating a warm meal, they could have enough, and then some more. I was immediately honored to bring each plate of hot food and my heart was bursting with love for these people whom I had never known. I could not do enough to serve them.
I wasn't growling when I walked in, I was nice and polite. When I left though, I was exuberant, filled with joy to over flowing. I had been smiled upon by beautiful people who had no reservations, no bone to pick, no homes and no attitude of self pity or despair. I had come to serve them but the reward was truly mine.
I tell you all of this not to brag, although to even speak of my small effort is the epitome of self exultation, but I am telling you, because I want you to do it too, not just at Christmastime but all year, every month, every week!
There are people in need all around us and what they need is you, but most of all; its you that needs them.

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