By Chaplain Adele M. Gill
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope,
by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Something wonderful happened this week, at the Soup Kitchen/Community Outreach where I volunteer once a week. It involved a woman with special needs named Vicki, and a generous homeless man.
So Many Blessings, So Many Gifts!
The woman who leads our clothing ministry brought in gifts for all 100+ guests in attendance to select from. Before our guests came, she carefully set the gifts out along 6 long tables in the back of the room, and eagerly anticipated the arrival of our guests. Shortly after we opened, a homeless man named Charlie, came over to talk with me as he does each week. He and his wife live in a camper with no running water, no bathroom facility, no electricity, but they say they feel blessed to “have a place with a roof over our heads.” Though they are homeless, Charlie is a hard worker, and has held down a full-time job for some time now. By the grace of God, they are soon moving into an apartment.
Great Joy, Little Christmas Tree
You can imagine how surprised I was when Charlie approached me at the Christmas celebration that day, and handed me a small, live, 10 inch small Christmas tree, a spruce, with the pot wrapped in burlap that he had just gotten from the gift table. “This is for you for helping me and my wife.” “Thank you” I said, adding, “I can’t take this from you—It’s so beautiful, and you and your wife should keep it for Christmas!” “No, I insist” he replied. At his urging, I did finally accept it, and was deeply touched by his very special gift.
Later, Charlie came over again to tell me he had another gift for me: A long necklace with a string of blinking Christmas lights. “Thanks! How about if we give these to someone here who would really enjoy them?” “Ok!” he said. “How about the woman over there with the special needs community in the purple top? She waved to me twice earlier today.” “Great idea!” So we went over together right away to give them to her. Her name was Vickie. When I told her they were for her from Charlie, she started yelling, “Charlie! Charlie!” as she leaped out of her chair, with arms extended wide open, she hugged me with great fervor, then grabbed him tight and hugged him twice, too. “OMG! I can’t believe it! Why me?” “Everyone! Everyone! Look at my new Christmas necklace! Charlie gave it to me!” Hugging him tightly and enthusiastically again, he and I were jubilant too, we were deeply moved and speechless due to the extent of her joy.
Joy & Generosity
As Charlie and I were walking away from Vickie, side-by-side, I looked over and saw he was trying hard to hold back the tears, while trying to compose himself. “You know,” he said, “This is what Christmas is really all about…”
There is so much to learn about joy and generosity from this story:
- Life is full of surprises.
- It really is the simple, little things in life that give us the greatest joy.
- Everyone has something to give others, regardless of finances or circumstances.
- There is great joy in giving to others.
- Sharing joy can be a life-changing event for all involved.
What a wonderful experience and a Christmas blessing! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the joy we experienced will be with the 3 of us for many years to come. Believing in the power of God-given joy, I’m sure Vickie will wear her Christmas lights from Charlie for days, perhaps months, to come as long as they still light up and blink.
I’m sure that Charlie, in his generosity, experienced profound joy that day that the likes he may have never known before. And me? I will plant my little Christmas tree from Charlie in the spring, and will always remember Charlie and Vickie with joy and gratitude, and all that transpired that day. The 3 of us now have a great, joy-filled Christmas memory. Those who witnessed what transpired, and those we share this story with, now have a new Christmas story to tell others. And so we see the ripple wave effect of generosity and joy in giving and receiving.
Blessings are Not Random
What happened that day at the community outreach was not random—it was clearly a series of God-events that remind us all that true joy is a God-given gift. We are so grateful to have a loving God of surprises who enables us to share with others and experience joy–even when we think we have precious little to give another person. Joy really is contagious. May you experience joy this Christmas in all things great and small. May you embrace the joy that only God can give.!
© Copyright 2019 | Adele M. Gill