This is the first in a series of reflections on celebrating and living in this season of incarnation.
The Word became flesh and made his home among us. – John 1:14 (CEB)
This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. – John 15:12 (CEB)
One of my touch points this Advent has been the wonder of the incarnation. This has included reflection of not just the incarnation, but how we continue to make Christ incarnate in the world today.
Advent began with our new worshipping community gathering and inviting others to our house for a service activity. A couple of weeks before, Youngest went throughout the neighborhood to raise funds (he called it Miles for the Homeless) to make toiletry kits. On the first day of Advent, we gathered with others to assemble the kits, write cards and make bag meals to be taken to those who are homeless and living outside.
One thing that has been important to our community (hopefully we’ll have a name soon!) was involving everyone in opportunities to serve. This meant finding a way for someone as young as four to be meaningfully involved. We decided to include cards in each of the kits and meals. Kids and adults could draw a picture; write a note or a prayer.
When we got done, I think the cards were the best thing we did.
As we were packing up the kits and meals to take down to Larry Under the Bridge, the cards were eye-catching. I’ll be honest and admit that this began as an option to keep our youngest folks busy. But adults wrote cards as well. And even better, adults and kids drew pictures and offered thoughts together. The cards covered the spectrum in colors and thoughts – and all were heartfelt.
When adults are homeless, they can be separated from a regular family environment. These kits and meals were for people who are living outside. These aren’t folks who are sleeping on someone’s couch or simply in-between places. In the many places I frequent, I commonly come into contact with children. I see them play, I hear them laugh, I appreciate the funny clothes the dress themselves in. But for those who live outside the ordinary margins of “respectable” society, I imagine such encounters are rare.
What I loved best about the cards is that they were written from one human being to another, both created in the image of God, over things we share in common. These weren’t just bags of things we were giving, but also a sharing of us. We wanted it to be personal. While some may have tossed the cards out in search of the ham and cheese sandwich or some lip balm, others may have felt connected to family or a home (or a society) that they no longer feel a part of.
Our hope was to care for body and soul. To share in our common humanity. To convey the love of Christ. To help the Word become flesh yet again.
Wondering how you can make a connection this Christmas season? Purchase some McDonald’s $5 gift cards and write a personal note sharing your appreciation for a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter day. I think almost any shelter will take them – or bring them to me and I’ll take them to Larry Under the Bridge next week.