It’s Christmastime 1995, just days before Diane received her ALS diagnosis. She’s already challenged because of unexplained muscle loss.
When I transcribed this children’s sermon I was surprised to hear the words she whispered at the end, right after her children’s prayer. The microphone was still turned on. I could hear that she already needed some of that kindness and extra help she just talked about. A telling moment.
17 December 1995
You can see I’ve got my bag here that says I’ve been doing heavy-duty Christmas shopping! Actually some of it isn’t just for Christmas. You might call it birthday shopping.
Is there somebody’s birthday on Christmas? Whose? Oh, yes, it’s Jesus’ birthday! I was just testing to see if you remembered.
So I did some birthday shopping for Jesus. Let me show you what I got.
- Here’s one of the items–a box of Cheerios. Ever seen one of those? Do you want one of those under your Christmas tree?
- Let’s see something else. Here’s a jar of peanut butter. Peanut butter? Uh….
- Let’s see. Sugary Sam Golden Yams! Mmm. A can of yams! I can tell you love ‘em.
- And some cornmeal?
- Now this one I do like! Instant oatmeal. This is the creamy variety. That’s the kind I like.
So that was some birthday shopping for Jesus! Of course Jesus really doesn’t need to come and eat any of this.
But he told us in the Bible that if we do a kind thing for someone who needs it–if we provide food for someone who doesn’t have enough food, or–I could have bought some clothes, because he said if we provide clothes for people who don’t have warm clothes, or don’t have the clothes they need–If we do it for someone else who needs it, it’s the same as doing it for him!
How about that? If I want to buy gifts for Jesus, all I need to do is go get some gifts, and give them to somebody who needs them! Or even show some kindness to someone who needs a little kindness.
There’s one other thing down here in the bag. One of these. You know what it is? That’s one of our Christmas offering envelopes that we use for giving a missionary offering. That’s another way to give a gift to Jesus.
Why? Because the kindest thing we can do for another person is to make sure they know about Jesus, and his love for them. And that’s a birthday gift for Jesus, too!
In a couple of weeks we’re going to collect more food for folks in our area who might need some. So I brought these things today, and I’ll make sure they get in with all the food others will bring. Maybe some of you will, too.
Did you know we can give gifts to Jesus all year round in this way? You do? Good!
I like having this really neat way to give Jesus gifts for his birthday! Some of you already brought Christmas gifts that went to a children’s Bible club yesterday. That’s another way of giving gifts to Jesus this Christmas.
Of course I’m doing shopping for my family, too. They don’t have to worry!
But here’s my point. Let’s be sure to include some shopping for Jesus. Not just for our families. We can give food or clothing or even kindness to someone who needs it. Let’s pray together.
Thank you, Jesus, that you’ve told us a good way to give you gifts that show our love for you. We pray that at this special time of year and the rest of the year we’ll remember to do kind things and give food and clothes to other people because we love you, and want to please you. And we pray that because we do those things, more people will know that you love them, too. These things we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
[Whispered into the mic, as Diane is getting up from the platform stairs: “I’ve got my helper! Thank you.” Diane’s helper was either her husband, who was almost always with her on Sundays, or a staff member or friend who’d agreed to help her stand up after the children’s sermon.]
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 August 2015
Image from aliexpress.com