Jesus said that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” The last time we talked about love, we talked about the joys and difficulties of loving the person who stands or sits before us.
It is sometimes all joy to help someone, especially when our gift of time or money makes their life significantly better, in ways large and small.
My father used to tell the story of how, in the depths of the depression, when he was nine or ten years old, his parents told him and his two brothers, Paul and Darryl, that the family was broke and there would be no presents at Christmas. Dad was reconciled to this hard reality, and, on Christmas morning, he was lingering over breakfast with his family when they heard a knock on the door. His mother sent dad to answer it, and to my father’s surprise he found a little girl from up the street, standing there with a small package in her hand. She was a classmate at school and at church. She gave him the wrapped gift and said, “Merry Christmas, Norwood.” Then she turned and ran back home. When Dad opened his gift, he found a simple little game. It consisted of a small carboard box with a little plastic window. Inside the window was the colorful face of a clown. The object of the game was put six shiny little ball bearings into six small holes, one in each of the clows eyes and nose, and three in his mouth. Dad said that game kept him and his two brother busy—not just on Christmas Day, for a long time thereafter. Dad never called that little girl by name, but her gift meant so much to him, that, when I was a boy, I heard about it every Christmas, or so it seems. Naturally, I usually heard about it just as I was opening a present of my own.
I am quite sure that most of you have been on the opposite side of that equation. You know what it is like to make a gift of time or money to someone who is thereby lifted from their difficulties, real and imagined. Continue reading