Today’s Midweek Message is an excerpt from a column Senior Pastor Dan De Leon wrote for The Eagle in December of 2013.
Robb McCoy, Associate Minister of Riverside United Methodist Church in Moline, Illinois, blogs, “The only way to keep Christ in Christmas is to be Christ in Christmas. No one can take Christ out of Christmas where the people of God are being the body of Christ.”
When I was a youth minister for a Baptist church, our youth group spent the weeks before Christmas fundraising. They used the money to purchase uniforms, backpacks, and school supplies for children and teenagers living in an orphanage in Camargo, Mexico so that they could attend school in the New Year. They also had a wish list for toys, shoes, and clothes. The outpour of support for our youth group’s efforts enabled them to grant those wishes, as well.
Two days before Christmas, our group piled into a church van full of presents. We drove nearly ten hours to Camargo. At the orphanage, we handed gift wrapped boxes to children and youth that we had only met the previous summer. They tore into presents with wide-eyed elation, immediately putting on backpacks and trying on shoes. Our group and the young people of the orphanage hugged each other and exchanged what few words they knew in Spanish or English. With the coordinator of the orphanage strumming his guitar and me playing mine, our groups sang each other songs of thanksgiving in our respective languages.
These young people were separated by nationality, race, social status, and language, but they reached out and loved one another. I witnessed the love of God breaking in on the world at that orphanage. I saw the power of Christmas changing lives for the best, and I heard no one say, “Merry Christmas.”
For Christians, Christmas celebrates the love of God born anew in our lives in the form of Jesus. That child would grow up and give all who follow him a new command: “Love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” Whether I say ‘merry Christmas’ or ‘happy holidays,’ I hope that I might have the humility to love others, no matter what they say or don’t say to me this season. Then maybe my actions would not only show others who I follow, but also reveal the love of God breaking in on the world.