Christmas Memories – Advent Devotion
December 13, 2020
Food for Christmas
Throughout my entire ministry I worked with youth. I always tried to promote a giving spirit. My goal was to instill in the students, that we need to help others, and be servants to others, just like Jesus was and is still today.
One of the many ways we helped others was through food distribution to families. My youth group would deliver bags of groceries every 6-8 weeks to needy families throughout the year. But, we really went all out at Thanksgiving and Christmas, getting parents and the entire congregation involved.
A few weeks before Christmas we’d ask the congregation for financial and specific food donations. They would either designate funds for our “Christmas basket fund” or give their time to shop or donate food. Several weeks earlier I contacted the local middle schools, and they would give me a list of families from that school who could use help with food. Each year we’d also have people call the church for aid. We would help out those in our congregation who were in need too.
The day before we began delivering, the students and families would help sort all the food donations. If we were short on the items we needed, I’d make a list, load my student up in the church van and go to the supermarket to purchase what we needed. The youth enjoyed shopping for food items, with every 3 or 4 students having their own list. (I’m not sure if the store manager always liked us as we lined up 5-7 carts full of groceries, although the youth unloaded and bagged everything.)
After our grocery shopping excursion, we’d return to church. Then, we’d fill between 75-80 bags of food. In the days preceding the packing, congregation members helped me purchase and store 75-80 hams.
On the Sunday before Christmas, youth and families would get together for a quick lunch after church services. Then I would distribute the names and addresses of those who would be getting deliveries of food and hams that day. It was with a heartfelt love for others that the distribution began.
Over the years, students and families would get words of thanks, hugs, and even notes of love and appreciation to the church. I really enjoyed the stories from my students over the next week or so. When they delivered the food bags, many didn’t realize there were so many who had so little. At the same time, they and their family never wanted for anything.
It was a learning experience for everyone every year.
A Christmas memory I’ll never forget.
The Gospel story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000, exemplifies the importance of taking care of our neighbors (everyone is our neighbor) basic needs.
“When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida. But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.
Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.”
But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” For there were about 5,000 men there.
Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” So, the people all sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples, so they could distribute it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!’
Think about it for a moment. On the surface the passage tells us that Jesus blessed five loaves of bread and two fish and miraculously it multiplied to the degree that there was enough food to feed 5000 men. (Some theologians there may have been as many as twice that many people there if you were to include women and children -Yes, I’m sure they got fed to 😊.)
There’s more to the passage than food and eating though. Jesus was trying to get away from it all to rest and pray alone. Did He tell the people to leave Him alone, because He was tired? No! The passage above says, that Jesus welcomed them, He taught them, and He healed all of those who were sick.
Jesus took care of both physical and spiritual needs that day. He healed and fed the people much needed food. But, even more important is the fact that Jesus also fed the crowd spiritually by teaching them and God’s Kingdom.
For over 25 years, my youth groups and I took care of the basic need of food for many families. Kathy and I still do that today by giving food to our local sharing center every week.
Jesus takes care of all of our needs, and many of our wants. He puts people in our lives to help us if and when we need help with food, finances, health issues, and housing.
This Christmas be more like Jesus. Give of yourself, your time, and your resources.