Around December 19th I received an email advising me that I had a message waiting on the answering machine in my office at Park Street Church. It was a neighbor in the streets around Park Street Church who was calling. This neighbor does not go to church anywhere.
In the first half of her recorded call she described her expectations for this Christmas. She was expecting to have a very challenging and “crappy” holiday season. Her mother was dying in hospital and she was unable to be with her. Although her three sons would be home for Christmas, there would be no party, no special family gathering and all of the traditions of the family would not be special this year.
The second half of her message was surprising. She said, “because my Christmas will be so terrible, I want to ensure that others have a wonderful Christmas. Do you know of a family in need who would appreciate the groceries necessary to have a delicious meal on Christmas day? If you do, could you please get back to me so that I can provide such a meal for them?”
I replied with a call and got her answering machine. So, rather than play phone tag, I left an email where we could communicate. She replied to that email with this:
“Thank you for your return call. I was on the other line with my brothers having a family meeting about next steps for my mother. I’m glad to have the distraction to focus on making a difference for someone else’s family.”
We were able to connect this neighbor with a family in need. This was her message to me via email on December 28:
“My son – who speaks Spanish – reached out to the family of 11 and we provided 4 bags of groceries for a special meal of chicken alfredo, garlic bread, etc. (their request) We also included a bunch of fruit and Christmas cookies.”
What a beautiful story of giving at Christmas!
Our neighbors notice our presence on this block at Park Street and Tremont. I wonder if we notice the beauty God has stamped on our neighbors?
I pay tribute to it here out of deep thankfulness that although we each are broken, we still have remnants of a glory that dazzles.
Lord, your mercy is so great!