By Carrielynn Lund, CS Ministry Advancement
Most of us look forward to celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour. The wonderful, gospel-filled music and time spent with family and friends is my favorite part of the season.
Many of the people we minister to will be missing someone at their table this Christmas. Others will not be home with their families – many don’t have homes. A great number of them will have painful memories of abuse, neglect and sadness when they think of Christmas days in their past. For some, good memories of Christmas times past make their current struggle harder to bear.
Statistics tell us Christmas brings with it the highest rate of suicide attempts and successful suicides of the year. These people’s circumstances seemed so hopeless and dark they made a decision to end their lives. Statistics also show Christmas rates around domestic violence also increase dramatically. The pressure to provide gifts and put on the whole “Santa” show has even caused people to commit crimes that include armed robbery, prostitution, drug dealing and forgery to provide those high ticket items to their families.
Substance abuse is rampant and many people who have been working hard to address their addictions succumb at Christmas and “use” only to experience self-loathing and hopelessness at the end of the season. For many it means a return to addictive behaviour and a risky lifestyle.
So what can we do to make a difference this year for these people? Simply, the same thing we are called to do every day of the year – sharing the good news and hope of the gospel. People need to know there is a Saviour who was born, lived, died and was raised from the dead so that all of us could be saved from our hopeless state and have joy and peace and a secured eternity with Christ.
How can we tell them? In many ways! Sharing the gospel is ALL about relationships! We need to embody the love of Jesus and pour it out through our actions. For many of you, that is done by faithfully attending the facilities weekly with your teams. The fact that you show up regularly speaks loudly to the people you minister to. They know you care. Talking with them, praying with them and sharing your testimony of what God has done in your life validates the lessons you are teaching.
But what about the widow whose husband is not with her this Christmas? What about the woman in jail whose children have been apprehended by Social Services and she may not get to see them? What about the man who has lost everything and is barely surviving on the streets? What do you say to them? There are no words alone that can “fix” any of their pain. Letting them know you care and will pray for them and listening to them may be all you can do and the best thing you can do at this time.
Is there someone you know who is going to be alone this Christmas? Someone at your church? Your hairdresser? Perhaps a neighbor? Maybe they aren’t like people you usually have for Christmas dinner but I can tell you from personal experience that stepping out of your comfort zone and bringing in people who are alone on Christmas is an amazing blessing. It makes the day so very special and has a long-term effect on the individuals you invite. *Note: Use your judgment on what is appropriate for the guests you invite remembering not everyone will have fancy clothes or be able to bring something. Our celebrations are casual and I tell our guests I have, as usual, cooked way more than we could ever eat so they don’t need to bring anything. (I always have containers on hand and cook too much intentionally for people I know would appreciate taking some home)
Isaiah 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God and to comfort all who mourn.”
This year give the very best gift there is that never expires, needs no warranty because it never breaks and the receiver of the gift is registered with the Creator as a member of His family and receives all the family benefits. Give the gift of the Gospel and may your Christmas be enriched by blessing others!