Maybe it comes from their need. The way they easily reached out to the people in the nursing home. The way they walked in the rooms with big smiles, ignoring the words that couldn’t be spoken; the fingers withered with arthritis reaching out toward them.
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem
These young men who came to our door with their own need had no trouble reaching out to others in theirs. No matter these bed-ridden and wheelchair-bound folks were generations older. No matter they were strangers we’d likely not see again. A group went room to room handing out small gifts and a holiday magazine with a type too small for them to read. No matter. These gifts were presented with greetings and warmth and I know these older folks knew the gifts came with love.
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
The larger group, more than 20 this year, sang carols walking every hall of the nursing home, singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas at least five too many times for the night staff.
These holidays will be filled with activities for the men. Outdoor nativity scenes, the annual Christmas Pageant at First Baptist, light displays, and so much more. Distractions from the families who aren’t ready to welcome them home this year. Being in community to fight the urge to isolate and go back in the dark place where relapse is born. We have ugly Christmas sweater parties to laugh at ourselves and we fill the Center with decorations and promise.
This is Christmas. For everyone. Promise. Hope. Love. Joy. This is what the Shepherds found at the manger as they made their way past the animals, past the smell, past the dung. We’re making our way past the mess too. To get to the gift the Christ Child is because He IS the promise. He IS the hope and the love and the joy. He IS the gift.
Their voices filled the halls. Their hands waved about in conductor like fashion. Joyful and triumphant they come.