A Little White Church Advent
Come on an Advent journey and walk the rural roads and snow covered paths with Donna Frischknecht as she shares stories of God’s promises being fulfilled in the most amazing ways. These stories of “Emmanuel”—God with us—were gathered during her time serving as minister in a historic white clapboard church in upstate New York, right on the border of Vermont, from 2007-2013.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit. Matthew 25:35-37
On my desk sits an index card with the initial “R” written on it in blue marker. I have thrown this index card into the garbage at least three times so far and, so far, I have reached three times into the waste paper basket to retrieve it. I am struggling with this index card with the initial “R” on it. I don’t want to see it for I don’t like how it makes me feel for it reminds of something that I don’t want reminding of. And yet I can’t seem to free myself of it and just throw it out. How can an innocent white index card with “R” written on it cause such turmoil in my heart?
It was at the youth group breakfast at the little white church, where every Wednesday morning teens would gather before school in what was known as Mackenzie Chapel—a chapel/fellowship hall built in faith during the depression years, reminding the congregation that with God all things are indeed possible—that they were invited to write an initial of someone they knew who needed a friend to stand up for them, a confidant to confide in, a brother or sister in Christ to rely on, a fellow human to let them know they are loved and not journey alone in this world.
They were invited to write the initial of someone in which they can show the love of Christ to this Christmas.
As the teens scribbled the initials of those they had in mind, I sat there staring off into space not wanting to write out the initial I had in my heart for I didn’t want it to materialize onto the index card for me to see. The war waged inside of me. I fought back the tears that began to sneak up behind my eyes, forcing them away with every stinging blink I took. “I am not going to cry,” I kept saying. No, I am not going to cry. Hesitantly my hand began to write “R.”
The youth leaders finished up their lesson, closing prayers were said and the kids were invited to hang on to their cards as a reminder of the task they have before them as they went about their day: be Christ to the one in need, be a friend to the one who is friendless, be a light of hope to the one walking in darkness.
I threw “R” into my bag and went on with my day. When I got home and emptied out the contents within, out came “R.” And that is when the waste paper basket game of throwing out and retrieving began.
I have decided to stop the game. I have decided to keep the index card. I have decided to let it remind me of what I really rather not remember. That is, there is someone in my life who needs my love. There is someone in my life who walks in darkness and needs the light of Christ. There is someone very close to me who needs to know he is worthy; he is special; he is cared about greatly. There is someone who needs more of my time that I have claimed I do not have.
There is someone I can be Christ to this Christmas. “R” is my older brother with special needs. “R” is my brother who has given me the greatest gift ever without even knowing he gave it. He gave me eyes to see the least in this world. Now I just need to find the strength and guidance to give the gift of my time to him.
What initial do you need to write down on an index card this Christmas?