This month we’re exploring meaningful holiday traditions and how to focus more on spiritual growth and helping others.

DSC03551It came in my email one day: A Christmas list from you, a woman I had never met.  It wasn’t by accident that I got this message. After I contacted a local charity organization and asked something like, Do you have anyone I could sponsor at Christmas?  They had replied that they did and sent me your list.   I read your brief bio–that you were a young woman expecting a baby–and I had so many questions.  Why did you end up in a house for women who were homeless? Where was the father?  Where was your family? Why couldn’t you go home?

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All I knew is that you were pregnant and without a place to go, much like our Savior’s mother before she landed in an animal stall on Christmas night.

Your life was a mystery, but your list revealed bits and pieces of you–the things you liked, what you needed, all the little baby items you were dreaming about: baby girl clothes, a Bible, perfume.

A Christmas list says so many things about who we are, our hopes and needs. It skips the small talk and gets right down to what we think would really make us happy.

I’d be fooling myself if I said I didn’t have needs too, that maybe just what I needed to get through the first Christmas without my son was doing something radical for someone else.

When I asked that one question–Can I help?–it might have been the thing that made the holidays bearable by bringing back a spark of joy in the midst of pain.

Because when we give of ourselves, it not only helps us live out the words, “it is more blessed to give than receive,” it also makes us more like the Savior, who wasn’t afraid to help those whose lives were messy and hard. Jesus, the ultimate suffering servant: a foot washing, sin pardoning, disease healing, grace-giver.

When we’re drowned out by a thousand messages of crass commercialism, “Can I help?” is the message we need to be asking in a world of hurting and lonely people.  It’s a message for the next generation–our children–who hear us ask the hard questions and wait to see if we’ll follow through with generosity and compassion.

And who knows?

One small act of kindness might do an exceptional, almost miraculous thing: it could change us too.

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Radical Acts of Christmas Kindness

RACK stands for Radical Acts of Christmas Kindness and is any sacrificial thing you do to help others at Christmas.

How do you join the RACK Revolution?

Here are some ideas to to help you start doing Radical Acts of Christmas Kindness:

  • Pray for families as you receive their Christmas cards.
  • Carol sing in your neighborhood and hand out cookies.
  • Buy hot coffee or cocoa for Salvation Army bell ringers.
  • Better yet, volunteer as a bell ringer.
  • Leave quarters or dollars in pockets of clothing at the Goodwill or Salvation Army store.
  • Be a cupcake or cookie commando: leave treats on someone’s doorstep.  Ring the doorbell and run!
  • Leave coins at vending machines or parking meters.
  • Pay for the person in line behind you at a fast food restaurant.
  • Leave treats at a local school for the teachers and staff. (Check with the school beforehand. Some schools do not accept homemade treats, only prepackaged items.)
  • Surprise a pastor with a card of encouragement and a coffee.
  • Sponsor a family or person for Christmas. (Note: Children often get selected first; adults are often last.)
  • Hand out bottled water and a snack bar to the homeless. (Our church did this. The water bottle had attached information about area homeless shelters.)
  • Collect food for a food pantry or volunteer to work at a soup kitchen.
  • Send a restaurant gift card to someone who needs some holiday cheer or a night out.
  • Surprise postal workers, mail carriers, and others with a small gift.
  • Donate time or supplies to animal shelters or rescues.  Call to see what their needs are.
  • Deliver special gifts to those who work Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (hospitals, drug store employees, police and firemen).

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Give generously, love lavishly.

Sara

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