Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Emmanuel is still here -- Diane Mettam

And so it is Christmas.  Emmanuel.  God is still with us.  Amidst the fear and chaos and hatred God is here.  I had to remember back to the time when my daughter and grandsons were trapped in their home during a shooting situation, to the wise words of my six-year-old grandson David, “God has this.” 
I am tired and hurting, and my energy level is close to zero.  I wonder what ministry I can do in this situation, but then I remember, “God has this.” 
As I got my van back from the repair shop, and completed some long-overdue errands, I received some answers.  I dropped off some small gifts - Christmas pencils and stickers for the children in the classroom where I volunteer.  I had some unexpected gifts waiting for me, with cards telling me the children were blessed to have me in their lives.  I was overwhelmed.  I consider it all joy that I can be with them.  Seeing them improve in reading and arithmetic is my pay, hugs are a sweet bonus. 
I dropped off a charity sweater at church and a woman approached me.  We have seen each other at church but didn’t know each others name.  We introduced ourselves and chatted for a bit as she waited for her appointment with the pastor.  She was curious about my wheelchair, and surprised how quickly I got around in it.  She is facing some health issues of her own.  We will be meeting again so we can have a longer talk.
Our weather has turned cold and wet.  We have many people without shelter.  And our city council, in its wisdom, voted to postpone a vote to declare a shelter emergency until January 5th despite a public call for a vote now.  They wanted a certain person to be there for the discussion.  And so many people are spending their nights in the cold and wet instead of in public buildings which could be opened to house them, or in tents or temporary shelter on land which the city has already designated for homeless housing.  One member of our church is very involved in the homeless community, running a feeding program and contending with the powers that be.  She recently ran a campaign for tent and sleeping bag donations.  Our church has always been a welcoming presence and keeps a food pantry. 
My husband and I were tired of driving by people and feeling helpless, so we put together a “homeless bag” project which the church adopted.  The sewing group make the bags, and we fill them with useful items, like a flashlight, tissues, bandages, Tylenol, socks, water, granola bars, a bandanna, space blanket, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.  There’s also a list of places that can help with meals, (limited) beds for the night, job placement, etc. and a map to locate those places.  It’s not much, but it’s better than handing someone a dollar or ignoring them.  And of course we pray. 
It seems this year, more than before, it’s easier to look at other people as less than people.  It’s easier to label them and consider them less than worthy.  But tonight we went to the Live Nativity put on by one of our local churches.  Our son is visiting from out of town (the high desert) and hubby and son weren’t sure it would go on in the pouring rain, but this is Eureka.  We went, and there were the seven scenes, and people handing out CDs with narration to accompany the scenes, and volunteer police cars to direct the traffic.  And to my delight, Isaiah was played by a man in a wheelchair!  Yes!!  No big deal made about it, he just sat there at his table with his parchments, listening and writing.  It gave me great joy to see a disabled figure associated with Christmas that wasn’t an object of pity.  Praise the Lord! 
“Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
purple Advent candle in church nave

Dear God, Thank you for reminding us that even when we feel useless, there is always something we can do, that others still see your light and life in us.  Help us to remember that as long as we breathe the breath of life, we are yours, and radiate your gift of Jesus’s love and salvation.  We are so blessed.  Amen.
May your holidays be blessed.  I hope to be back to a regular schedule very soon.

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