Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent - The least of these

As a parent there seems to be an unwritten rule. When someone does something nice for your children, we tend to make a mental note of it and remember to do something nice for that person. We the parent, feel responsible for repaying others when they do things for our children. It's not because those people want to be paid back. In fact, I have many beautiful friends who do wonderful things for our children that I know do it out of the golden hearts they possess. Then again, maybe it's a southern thing? 'When someone does something nice for you, you should do something nice back.' I remember hearing that growing up. Even though that person is doing something nice for your child, we the parents feel it is something nice for us! Being nice to our kids, IS being nice to us; that's how much our children mean to us.

I was just reading the morning paper when I came across an article about a man who came face to face with a homeless woman. It was a startling for the writer of that article to come face to face with a woman he knew. A woman he watched grow up as a child. She disappeared after her fourth child and the parents next door simply began raising their grand kids. Like most 'good' neighbors he never commented on it, simply noticed and walked on. Then one day walking downtown he heard a feeble voice call out for money, and mentioned the name of their home town. He turned and there was the girl. He talked to her for a while about the town, her children, her mom and dad. In the end he gave her all the money in his wallet.

As he walked away he began looking around, trying to see each person as a son or daughter. As a person, not just as a 'homeless beggar.' It touched him. It took seeing someone he actually knew in the face of a beggar to bring his heart to realize they were people. Some have problems yes. Some are drug users, some drunks, some have mental illness. Some are just down on their luck. All of them are someone's child.

You and I as Christians have been charged that 'whatever we do for the least of these, we do for'1 Jesus Christ. How much more prominent does that stick in our mind when we compare it to how we treat our own children? Every person is made in God's image. Every person has that divine image in them. If it pleases us to see others do good for our own children? How much more so does it please God? On the converse, when someone turns their nose up to our children... how much does it break our heart? To see those children hurt?

This Advent, as we prepare for our Christmas gatherings, as we gather with our friends and family to share with one another the blessings that God has given us, as we look for gifts for family and friends; let us also keep in mind those who are less fortunate. Let's look for Jesus in the face of every person we meet. Even if they aren't particularly pleasant. Even if they seem strange and aloof. Let us look for ways to help the widow and the orphan, the prisoner, the homeless. Look for ministries that give, leave a present on the porch of someone you know is having problems, buy a coat for a child whose family can't afford one.

What are some ways that you can help? What are some ways that you can remind yourself that every person you walk by is made in the image of God? Remember, people have entertained angels unaware.

In Christ,

1. Matthew 25:31-46