Gen_Linda_Bond_476x360

A Christmas Embrace

12
.24

The small boy was obviously lost. Standing in the shopping mall with crowds of people rushing by, he looked terribly anxious, glancing all around for a familiar face. It was Christmas time and the worst time of year to be in the midst of a rushing crowd, disconnected from a family member. Yet, standing beside The Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle, I could see what he could not – an elderly man standing not far away with eyes fixed on the boy. I thought to myself that this was his grandfather. Sure enough, their eyes met and the older man ran to embrace the boy. ‘You thought you were lost, didn’t you? Well, I knew where you were all the time.’ No scolding of the boy for wandering off. No embarrassing lecture in front of strangers. No reprimand of any sort.

For so many people Christmas time only accentuates their sense of lostness – of being alone in the crowd. The emphasis on family, happy memories, celebration and giving just reminds them of their isolation and that life has not been like that for them. Perhaps that is why The Salvation Army has made Christmas a major focus of its year. Perhaps that is why we arrange special meals in the community, Christmas assistance and the giving of toys. We want to replace the sense of loss or meet the urgent need and display the spirit of Christmas in the most practical ways.

Yet in spite of all we do, we cannot fix broken lives or heal the deep wounds of the heart. Sometimes we are surprised to discover that the people who feel most lost in this Christmas maze are not the economically strapped. Sometimes the hurting, broken, lonely and lost are actually the ones who appear to have it all together.

The Bible tells a story of such a man – Zacchaeus. He was actually very prosperous. However, his profession as a tax collector ostracised him. But Jesus, like the doting grandfather, saw where he was all the time and connected with him in a life-changing way. When criticised by the people because he was having a bite to eat with a ‘sinner’ like Zacchaeus, Jesus declared emphatically that he had come into the world to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Zacchaeus changed from the scheming deceiver that he was to a generous, responsible citizen. Why? Not because he was publicly shamed, reprimanded or made to feel like an outsider, but because Jesus was on the lookout for him. He gave him a sense of dignity. He knew he could be different.

It is so important that we don’t get carried away with nostalgia when it comes to the Christmas story. We can romanticise the scene of Jesus’ birth and miss the power of its message. God took on human flesh, moved into our neighbourhood and spent his life in search of those who needed to reconnect with their Maker.

Maybe some of us would never admit to being a lost soul, but we would admit to a loss of our idealism, values, faith or hope. Maybe we would even venture to admit that we have lost much of our love for ourselves or others. It’s not something we declare to everyone. We may feel like the young boy, unnoticed by the crowd but frantically needing to be found. Well, friends, Christmas is about the coming of the Saviour of the world – the loving Saviour – the one who searches out lost people, embraces them, and gives them the best sense of belonging they could ever imagine.

By General Linda Bond
General Linda Bond is the international leader of The Salvation Army.

 

One Comment

Deb

Thank you…

“For so many people Christmas time only accentuates their sense of lostness – of being alone in the crowd. ” – “…we would admit to a loss of our idealism, values, faith or hope.”

So what do we do to reactivate our hope? Perhaps by not giving up until the last idea has been exhausted. I am tired and petrified. Ideas are disappearing.

Maybe it is time to put a fact to the Christmas warm fuzzies – in the reality of January’s fresh page.

The article gave me an idea that I had packed away. Time to find out who is in charge of the Moose Jaw ‘gives’ and see if people have time for a coffee meeting.

Deb

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Salvation Army booth centre winnipeg

Salvation Army Provides Shelter to Asylum Seekers Pouring Across Manitoba Border

02
.22

As asylum-seekers make their way through deep, snow-covered fields into Manitoba, The Salvation Army is providing shelter and safety once they arrive in Winnipeg. “Most are carrying nothing more than a backpack,” says Major Rob Kerr of The Salvation Army. “They need all their energy to get through the fields.”

The Salvation Army Booth Centre in Winnipeg is working in partnership with Welcome Place, which offers a range of services to assist refugee newcomers.

“Welcome place is directing the asylum-seekers to Booth […]

Jamie-Lynn (left) cuts cucumber with after-school participant

Teen Volunteers at Salvation Army After-School Program

02
.16

Jamie-Lynn started attending an after-school program at The Salvation Army in Kingston, Ont., when she was seven-years-old. Today, the 14-year-old volunteers at the same place where she learned how to read and write.

“After I learned how to read, write and do math, I passed school with flying colours,” says Jamie-Lynn. “I love it here.”

As a volunteer, Jamie-Lynn assists with anything from helping younger children do crafts to teaching others how to safely cut vegetables to helping with clean-up.

“It’s fun and […]