Despite the joy I experience during the Christmas season, I also feel an uneasy dissonance at this time of year. Tinny Christmas carols blasting crudely in shopping malls and the vast array of goods on display, somehow seem so dissonant with the humble birth and simple lifestyle of our Lord.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, a fairly wealthy church, Paul, in chapter 8 verses 1 to 15, gently reminds the congregation about their obligations in giving. He brings to their attention the fact that the other churches in the region were facing serious problems, one of which was their extreme poverty. Yet despite this their congregations were renowned for their generosity in giving:
‘Fierce trouble came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors. They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. … They gave offerings of whatever they could – far more than they could afford – pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians. (verses 2 – 4)
Whenever we visit poor families in the area around ‘Morning Star’, we are always overwhelmed by the generosity we encounter. We never come away without a gift of some kind – a bunch of sweet potatoes, a few cobs of corn, some ripe fruit, all hurriedly gathered for us as we say our goodbyes. It is a deeply humbling experience which breaks our hearts as we see how little they have, but always so willing to share with us who have so much.
Charles Spurgeon reminds us that:
‘The Lord Jesus was eternally rich, “yet for our sakes He became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). The rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren unless he gives his substance to minister to their necessities. Likewise, it is impossible that our divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless He had imparted to us of His own abounding wealth and had become poor to make us rich.’
As we celebrate the birth of our beloved Lord Jesus, this season, our prayer is that all of us who call ourselves Christ-Followers, would have our ‘hearts broken with the things that break His heart’, and that we would commit to sharing what God has so generously given us, with those less fortunate than ourselves. If the poor and destitute occupy such an important place in God’s heart, they should also occupy high priority in ours.
Norma and I are so grateful to each of you who has supported us in our ministry this year. You have all contributed in different ways – financially, as short-term and longer term volunteers, encouragers and prayer partners. Without you we would not be here. We wish you all a Christmas season full of joy and, prayerfully ask God to bless you for giving us the privilege of blessing the poor and destitute in the community around ‘Morning Star’.
In His Name,
Chris and Norma
‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink… I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me…’ Matthew 25: 36 - 37