There is a tension that every Christian feels to one degree or another during the month of December and especially on Christmas morning. On the one hand, Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, so He should be the one getting gifts. On the other hand, our culture has made Christmas all about giving and receiving presents in general…and that brings parents and families a ton of joy.
Several years back, Kellie and I began to wonder what it would look like to put Jesus at the forefront of our thoughts on Christmas morning and to give Him gifts on His birthday. So we began to call various volunteer organizations to see if they had a kid-friendly serving opportunity on Christmas morning.
And we struck out again and again. Either the organizations we called were closed on Christmas morning or their serving opportunities were for grown-ups only. So that December we made the decision that next year we’d find a place to serve.
And we did.
As our church was on pre-launch mode we stumbled on the idea of visiting a nursing home on Christmas morning and singing Christmas carols. We loved this idea for a few reasons:
- many of these folks are completely forgotten during the holidays
- even if their families come to visit them on Christmas, it would most likely be later on in the day.
- Scripture reminds we need to honor those in the twilight of their lives: Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly… – Leviticus 19:32
- In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us the “gifts” He wants every day of the year is for us to care for and show love to the poor and those in need.
Back in 2010, we floated that idea out to our core team and folks who were coming to our pre-launch church services. To celebrate Christmas morning differently… by getting out of their PJ’s, leaving the presents under the tree, and going to a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols.
A half dozen families joined us on December 25, 2010 at a nursing home in Clinton Township. We read the Christmas story. We sang a dozen carols…off key and slightly on at times. We hugged folks who don’t get hugged much. We listened to their stories. We prayed for them 1-on-1.
Fast forward to yesterday morning. We had enough volunteers this year to carol at three different nursing homes in three different cities on The Eastside: Utica, Shelby Township, and Clinton Township.
And here’s what we know is true. In addition to the residents and workers who attended our “concert” in the activity hall at each nursing home, Scriptures teach us Jesus attended too: the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40 – The Message)
Happy Birthday Jesus!
***Finish 2012 strong by coming to church this Sunday. I will be preaching a sermon focusing on how to reach new heights on your spiritual journey in 2013, so you can start the new year right! Plus, there will be worship, communion, and an opportunity to receive 1-on-1 prayer. See you at 10:30am on December 30th. More info at tevchurch.org***