Lee’s Summit, MO – It’s Christmas.
Our house is buzzing with holiday energy only a trio of kids can generate. We forced them to bed last night so we could be Santa’s elves, work that stretched well into morning. They stirred us at the crack of dawn and raced downstairs to discover their loot. Later we’ll host our annual Christmas brunch for extended family and friends.
The presents are plentiful, the food is abundant, the house is warm. What more could one ask for on Christmas?
Three blocks away, some homeless men store their few possessions and take cover from yesterday’s storm beneath the U.S. 24 bridge over Bess Truman Parkway.
Several families spent Christmas Eve in cars parked at McCoy Park, waking this morning in their four-wheeled homes packing everything they own.
And just up the road behind a strip mall, a band of people is spending the holiday in a village of tents and lean-tos.
Think they’re celebrating Christmas like we are?
There are many reasons members of Independence’s growing homeless population hit rock bottom. Some lost their jobs and were financially overextended; others succumbed to addiction; many were born into their predicaments.
Yet as painful as the causes are, none of them matters now. What’s important is what we do to help those without safe, reliable shelter.
Since we bought our house in 1994, Kate and I have proudly said we chose the Truman neighborhood intentionally. We want our children to have a clear sense of the world in which we live.
Not a bad idea. But simply talking about it just makes us feel better.
Maggie, our 13-year-old, reminded me of the difference we make helping those less fortunate than us last weekend after participating in a Christ United Methodist Church confirmation class day of service. As we rode home from church, she spoke with nervous excitement about the Mercy Meals she delivered with First United Methodist Church volunteers.
“They know where all the homeless people live,” she said. “They live close to our house.”
One of the people Maggie served struck a personal chord.
“We stopped at an old hotel that has been turned into little apartments,” she said. “We knocked on one of the doors, and my friend from school answered it. I never knew she lived there.”
In the days that followed, Maggie expressed the impact of her experience as she does all things that move her: She drew pictures and wrote poems about the lives she witnessed and brainstormed ways to improve them.
She also inspired her dad. And because of her, I’m going to do more for those less fortunate than me in 2011.
It’s one thing to talk about their predicament. It’s another to serve them.
Today we celebrate the birth of Christ. For Christians, his gift of salvation is the ultimate example.
And for those of us who look at the debit column, he told us how to repay him. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says ” … just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Think of the difference we could all make by joining Maggie and serving those less fortunate than us.
What do you say?