My heart is full of gratitude this season for the hundreds of people who have given to NightShift Street Ministries with their finances, acts of love and service, and gift-in-kind donations. We say a resounding thank you to everyone who has sacrificed and given to help us through yet another year! In addition to our heartfelt thanks, I feel compelled to talk about something more. Everywhere I turn these days, I hear “Happy Holidays!” from smiling clerks and bank tellers. Bells chime. Lights sparkle. Cash registers ring. Strains of “Jingle Bell Rock” float through malls packed with shoppers, frantically cramming in their last-minute Christmas shopping before the arrival of the big day. The ‘giving’ energy is high! Last week, as I embarked on the hunt for the perfect gifts for my grandsons, I was totally impacted by the festivities. After hours of scouring a multitude of stores, I left, disappointed and empty-handed. My heart was heavy. Not because I didn’t find the perfect gift but because I had arrived at a sad realization that something was missing. In the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle, I had lost my joy – spiraling downwards like the remnants of a stunning firework display – sputtering down to nothing. Following hours of reflection, I arrived at this: I was more focused on the giving than I was on the taking. Somehow, in all the hollowness of holiday shopping, I had lost my sparkle – the reminiscing of the miraculous gift that Papa had given me 2000 years ago.
“The God of the universe walked down the back staircase of heaven with a baby in his arms so He could be with us.” (Anonymous)
The birth of Baby Jesus was so spectacular that it was announced to the world by a multitude of angels, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy for all people.” (Luke 2:10) So where is this good news? Where is this great joy in the midst of the “Happy Holidays” mantra? Where is the Christ child in Christmas? Every year, I observe more and more that Jesus is subtly excluded from the party. Is it my imagination or is there even more of an omission of the Christ child this year? I don’t like this. So in response, I’m intentionally putting Christ back into my Christmas! This year I’m a ‘taker’ – a grateful receiver of God’s Son, His salvation gift. My priorities are straight! My Joy is back! I’m getting NOISY and exclaiming Merry Christmas to everyone who will listen to me these days. Are you with me? On behalf of NightShift and all the people we love and serve in our community, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! In Christ, MaryAnne Connor (Mac) Founder/President NightShift Street Ministries PS Our offices are closed for Christmas from 1 pm Christmas Eve, open again Monday, 30th December.