Monday, January 4, 2010

Scripture with skin on...

The Christmas season has come and gone, but that doesn't mean that the essence of Christmas should pass us by.  In light of this I am going to share a true story with you that began a few days before Christmas and has continued through to today.

Sunday December 20th myself and approximately 12 other people from our church family got together, equipped with lanterns, battery operated candles and Christmas music and went caroling.  It was a gorgeous evening, with a clear sky lit by the stars, guiding us as we strolled through the neighbourhood, knocking on doors, singing carols commemorating and celebrating the birth of Christ.

Now I am not a singer, in fact the whole idea of caroling left me a bit intimidated.  I am not one to walk up to random strangers and knock on their door. Yet that was my role, to hand candy canes to each of those who came to the door.  I am always conscious of how "the church" will be perceived and received.  Will they think this is just a marketing strategy to get them into our church? Will we wake a sleeping child, will we interrupt someone's meal time or worse hockey game.  But I knew that overall it would be well received and that it would be to God's glory. In fact some of the responses shocked me, a few people wanted to give donations, thinking that was the purpose of our caroling ( I wonder does this reflect a perception of the church?), others came out with cookies and joined us in song.

Then we came to the next house, as we began to sing a well put together, elderly woman came outside.  I walked up to hand her a candy cane and she began to sob, hands covering her face. Taken aback and not knowing what to do, I asked if it would be okay if I hugged her, as I did she melted into my chest and continued to sob.  Perhaps this is what scripture looks like with skin on, when Paul said in Romans 12:15 "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."  

I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes and told me that this was a terribly hard time of year for her as she had lost her daughter and grandchild in a car accident on Christmas day 10 years earlier. I prayed with her, and as she regained her composure she commented on how lovely the singing was, how grateful she was and that she would be making a donation to the church, which I assured her was not necessary.  Needless to say, after that experience, I was done. As she went back into the house I turned and walked back towards the group, broken and overwhelmed.  Never would I have thought that a simple gesture like caroling would provide such an amazing opportunity for ministry.  Not only was I blessed with the privilege of comforting this woman but that experience ministered to me.  Having just gotten home from Cambodia, I was struggling with wishing to be back there, ministering to those in the AIDS clinic, where I truly felt I was making a real difference. I realized that evening that God gives us opportunities to make a difference no matter where we are.

Now the story could have ended there, except for the fact that this woman remained on my heart.  So as she came to mind I would lift her up in prayer, but I wanted to do more.  Sometimes  I have these crazy thoughts but rarely act on them.  For example, I wanted to let this complete stranger know that she was being thought of and prayed for, and extend a hand of friendship, offering to get together for tea and conversation if she so desired.  But that would be crazy right?  Well perhaps, but I was willing to risk it. What was the worse that could happen?

So today I wrote up a card, explaining who I was, because surely she would not remember me.  I explained that I realized this was a little odd but told her that I was praying for her and that if she ever wanted to get together for tea and conversation or simply needed a listening ear she could call me and  I included my phone number.  Then I got in my car and went on a search for the house.  It was dark that night of caroling and I am not familiar with the area, so I hoped I would find it.  I drove around a couple times, and came back to the street I thought her home was on. As I drove past for the 2nd time, I noticed a woman in the big bay window taking the Christmas ornaments off her tree and I thought for sure that was her.  So with a big gulp I pulled into the driveway, grabbed the card and went and knocked on the side door.  She answered, and I still was not sure it was her, until she began to speak in her sweet accent.  I started to explain who I was and she remembered me and said that she had just taken the candy cane I had given her off the tree.  Then her phone began to ring, so I handed her the card and said my farewell.

I have no idea how things will progress from here.  Perhaps she dismisses me as a crazy nut, such is the risk I run, and it certainly it would not be the first time.  However there is always the possibility of God doing grand things, as we walk in obedience and enter into relationship with others.

I am going to end this post with an undeveloped thought....maybe the best "marketing strategy" for the church, is for we its members, to try, God helping us, to live like scripture with skin on.


  1. i love this so much! challenges me to take an opportunity one step further. i guess you/myself/or anyone could of just left it at the night of caroling, but you acted beyond that. love it.

  2. That truly was inspiring. Kind of makes me want to jump to my feet and get out there spreading God's holy word. Thank you.