“Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire.”
The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”
He answered, “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.”
Love reaching out to our community took tangible form last year. A bunch of us gathered in the church kitchen to make sandwiches and pack lunches for 42 children who might not have enough to eat while they are away from school for the Christmas holiday. We headed out in the church bus to distribute them at a mobile home park where a school counselor said they might need it. I gave the speech about “this is an adventure” and “we don’t know what to expect” and “pray God guides us to the children who need it.”
We knocked on the doors of about 25 homes. We saw many beautiful smiling children and the weary sigh of relief from a few parents and grandparents too. It was a joy to be sharing our burden of abundance with families who had the burden of need- both groups were lighter in spirit from the exchange!
After we were back at the church, and all had been cleaned up and put away, a mom rang the doorbell of the church with her young son. She had heard from her neighbors we were giving away food, and did we have any left?
We had given out every thing we had. I told her that. But this mother had driven about 15 miles to get to our church from that mobile home park. Letting her leave empty handed was not an option. So what does a church have when it has run out of food from the holiday celebrations?
Communion bread in the freezer, that’s what. I sent her home with those rolls and a new jar of peanut butter I’d found, along with a fresh jug of ice tea someone had put in the refrigerator. I explained to her what the bread was used for in our church. She said, “This is better than I expected when you said you’d already run out!” I laughed and invited her to Christmas eve services, got her phone number, and told her we would see what else we could do.
When John the Baptist is preparing people for the arrival of Jesus, he gets specific. He doesn’t just say get your heart right, he says, give away your extra clothes and food. Somehow, getting ready for the baby born in Bethlehem (which in Hebrew means “House of Bread”) means emptying out what we’ve got.
What do you have in your freezer?
Look in your freezer. Figure out if there is something you could give away or use for someone else. Do that together!
When we think we don’t have much, Lord, open our eyes to see all we have and to share it freely. Amen.