December 25, 2012 was an overcast, cold day at the bridge but warmth flowed all around. It was Christmas day and a party was going on for the ones without a home and no family around. Because of the Homeless Outreach Ministry meeting at the bridge for the last several months on a weekly basis, we have become friends with many of the homeless. In our time, we have seen many move into homes. We have become family with all these sweet people.
On this day, the ones who still live out in the cold, the ones who have moved into their own place and new ones showed up to our Christmas party. It was like being around a second family. One of the volunteers, Natalie, who planned the party, brought the dinner. . .ham, corn, green beans, hashbrown casseroles, desserts from others and drinks from another. So many people with great big hearts and warmth to boot, sharing themselves, their friendship, and their time.
We caroled...yes, we all sang Christmas songs. And one very special moment happened with a little munchkin and a giant. If you don't know this story, please go here first. Then come back. . .
The munchkin's aunt wrote and illistrated a book about Justin, the munchkin, the giant, the green coat, and the friendship that was formed between the two. The book was given to Justin as a Christmas gift and a copy of the book was made for Mike, the giant. Justin gave the book to Mike at the party. His mother asked me to read it to them all which I did. It was a beautifully written story in ryme with beautifully illistrated pictures. Mike was very touched and there were some glistening eyes and I heard sniffles. . .and it wasn't from the cold!
The bridge has offered many blessings and this was just one of them. A friendship between a little three year old and a very tall man out on the streets. All the people coming to the bridge are not sure what they will find. What they find is this. . .smiles, hugs, prayers, friendships, listening ears and caring hearts, along with food to eat and blankets and other necessities for survival in the cold winter months.
I was touched at the end of the evening when two of our bridge friends were worried about Gary, one who said he would be at the party but didn't show up. He lives down the street and across a field in an abandoned barn. The two gentlemen walked over to the barn in the dark carrying two of the green Christmas bags we had filled with food. They found Gary inside trying to stay warm in the hay in his sleeping bag and surrounded by blankets. He had no food. The gentlemen left the bags of food with him and wished him a Merry Christmas. When they came back to me at the bridge, they said it was a God thing that we had the food and they found Gary and was able to give him the bags. They felt good that they were able to give and gave God glory for the provisions. Yes, God watches over all and understands about men and hay and barns.
My heart leaped with joy when several came up and said how wonderful it was to see people out there for them, that they would take the time and effort to throw a party for them, that they would spend some of their Christmas day for them. They live in a part of the world where they only see selfishness, people who want to hurt them or shun them or steal from them. I think it was a gift for them this day to be around a group of people that just wanted to welcome them, love on them, that they could relax and know they were not going to be hurt, that they could visit and join in the music and have a real Christmas Day filled with love and joy. As they walked away, they were given two big green tote bags filled to the brim with goodies. They received gifts in many ways. So did we.
May they take that feeling and keep it in their hearts and remember the words to the Christmas songs we sang about our Lord and Savior, and to remember that Christ in the heart is the greatest gift of all.
I won't identify who is who because we are all the same
we are all created by God and loved by him
we are all friends and family
"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in love."
Hamilton Wright Mabie
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people