Christmas With the Least of These
By Elliott Ryan
When I was young, my mom worked as an activities director
at a retirement home. I remember going to the home with her on
many occasions to help her set up events for the residents. There
were a few years where she had to work on Christmas day. On those
days, we'd all pile into the family van and head up to Christmas
dinner at the home. We'd eat Christmas dinner in the dining room
with the few residents who didn't have relatives come pick them
for the holidays.
I remember feeling bad for the residents there. The retirement
home that my mother worked at was a pleasant enough place. But
it just wasn't the same as being at your own home surrounded by
your family. When my adolescent mind pictured the ideal Christmas
celebration, I didn't usually think of eating institutional food
at a retirement home. I wondered what kept the relatives of these
residents from picking them up for Christmas the same way the
other residents were taken out of the home for the day.
You will have to forgive me for this -- it was many years ago
and I am a very different person now -- but the person I felt
the most sorry for on those Christmases we spent at the home was
myself. I feel terrible about it now. But I used to think about
how other kids didn't have to spend a few hours of their Christmas
with strangers in a home. They were in their own houses playing
with whatever they got for Christmas. They were eating really
good food in their own dining rooms.
As a child, I didn't really understand (even though my parents
did try to explain) that celebrating Christmas at the home was
a ministry opportunity. Many of those residents may have felt
lonely and depressed at the home (rates of depression do tend
to skyrocket around the holidays). Christmas is supposed to be
a time to celebrate God meeting us at our level. He became one
of us to rescue us from eternal separation from Him. He gave up
His home in Heaven for a time and sacrificed Himself for us. Ironically,
the holiday has, for many in our culture, become a time of selfishness.
And that is the mindset I was in at the time. I couldn't be bothered
to interrupt my holiday with the needs of others.
Well, I can't rewind time and change my attitude. But I can learn
from the past. As God gives me the chance, I will not see people
as inconveniences this Christmas. I will see them as opportunities
to spread God's love. There are certain groups of people I will
be remembering in my prayers and seeking to minister to in particular
this Christmas season:
-Residents of retirement homes, nursing homes, and hospitals.
Many of these people have loved ones who will care for them. But
unfortunately, many of them feel forgotten and alone. I am praying
that God will grant them peace, comfort, and healing to them this
-Our troops overseas. With a war on terrorism ongoing, so many
of our troops will be half a world away from their loved ones
this Christmas. Their loved ones are also sacrificing having their
family together for Christmas for the good of the country. I am
praying that God will protect the troops and strengthen their
families to endure the separation.
-The poor and the homeless. As the weather gets colder, many people
in need find themselves struggling to find food and warmth. I
am praying for provision for them. I am also praying that those
of us with much will have a heart for giving to be God's hands
-Prison inmates. In most cases, people in this category caused
their own problems. However, Jesus Himself commanded that we should
remember those in jail. I am praying that during their incarceration,
inmates would turn to the God of second chances. I am praying
that their families who have to endure the holidays separated
from incarcerated loved ones will find healing.
You won't have to travel very far to find people who fit into
these categories. People who fit into most, if not all, of these
categories can be found in your community. God has placed each
of us into the mission fields where we live. The holidays are
a depressing time for many people. But people are also often more
open to spiritual things at Christmas. Through Christ, we have
peace, joy, and love that the world craves. Let us take this opportunity
to spread the joy that can only be found in Christ.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts
us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just
as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also
through Christ our comfort overflows." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
peace with God.
Want more articles for teens? Visit CBN.com
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.