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1 min read

A Christmas Irony

By Phil AltmeyerPhil Altmeyer and Carol

Executive Director

Christmas – what’s not to love? Family and old friends gathered together around a roaring fire. Sledding. Twinkling lights. Red noses. New mittens. Stockings bulging with goodies. Bright paper packages wrapped up with bows. Eggnog. Carols. Fudge and peanut brittle. Memories. Traditions handed down through generations.

Who doesn’t love Christmas? It sounds like a rhetorical question, but it isn’t really. For most of the men and women staying in our shelters, the holidays prompt mixed emotions at best and a sense of dread at worst. When portrayed like the cover of a Norman Rockwell greeting card, Christmas seems to spotlight everything that is missing from their lives, everything they’ve lost or never had. Society’s gay holiday spirit seems to mock their loneliness. The contrast between what is and what should be is nearly torture.

For the homeless, Christmas can be a time of pain. How ironic, right? Because Christmas is really about Jesus. Jesus – the one who beckons the poor and heavy-laden, the one who heals the brokenhearted and sets the captives free, the one who befriends the prostitute and tells the thief on the cross, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.”

There is an old African American spiritual, the chorus of which goes like this, “Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus. You can have all this world. Give me Jesus.” All the bright and pretty things listed in the opening of this article pale in comparison with the true gift of Christmas - Jesus.

Christmas isn’t really about decorating trees or finding the perfect gift. It isn’t even about the gathering of family and friends, as good as those things are. Christmas is really about Jesus, and Jesus is about forgiveness and restoration. Jesus is about extending unconditional love to the poor and brokenhearted.

The men and women in our shelters may be in a better position than most to receive the true gift of Christmas because they recognize their need.

In his book Addiction and Grace, Psychiatrist Gerald May writes: “Grace is the most powerful force in the universe. It can transcend repression, addiction, and every other internal or external power that seeks to oppress the freedom of the human heart. Grace is where our hope lies.”

Grace through Jesus Christ – the true gift of Christmas. Your partnership allows us to share this gift 365 days a year. Thank you and Merry Christ-mas!

 

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