In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
To all those who are called to Christ,
Like so many of you, I am sitting tonight by the lights of our Christmas tree. Presents are wrapped, stockings are filled and the fragrance of a wonderful dinner wafts in from the kitchen.
This is one of my favorite nights each year. It offers me time to pause and reflect on the joy that will come tomorrow as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Normally, Christmas comes wrapped up in so many rituals and family traditions – sharing a worship service, coming together for a meal or caroling through the neighborhood. We prepare special dishes, bake childhood favorites and decorate with family heirlooms.
This year, though, I will not be gathering with my children and grandchildren. I will not see our extended family nor will I visit with friends and neighbors. The rise in COVID-19 cases has interrupted yet another holiday this year, forcing us to stay separate so we might stay safe. Many of us are weary after months of deprivation and loneliness. We had looked to Christmas as a time when we might be able finally to gather safely – but that is not the case.
While it is too easy to dwell on that which has been lost or taken away, I remain hopeful. Tomorrow, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus – and not even the pandemic, which has changed so much, can stop that.
In Isaiah 9:6 we are joyfully told: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Tomorrow, we will be given the greatest gift of all from God, Our Father: the path to redemption and everlasting life through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And tomorrow, we will lift up our hearts to hear the “good tidings of great joy that will be to all the people.”
So tomorrow, despite the pandemic, we will celebrate our faith and our families by unwrapping those presents under the tree, enjoying a warm meal, lovingly prepared and giving thanks to God. Not all in our community are so fortunate, though. For men who have lost their homes and are struggling with addiction, Christmas is just another day of hardship and isolation, cut off from their families and the light of the Lord. The grief and sadness so many of us have felt these past several months weigh down the men we serve at Guiding Light for years – sometimes decades.
I hope you will find room in your heart to offer the light of Jesus Christ to those living in darkness and despair. Your donation will enable us to offer a hand up, not a handout, to men in our community who have almost lost their faith in humanity – almost. Your donation can change that and reconnect them to God.
As we read in Proverbs 11:25, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” May God bless you and your family this holiday season.
Stuart P. Ray
Executive Director, Guiding Light
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17