Christmas is happily chaotic at Methodist Home for Children. With The Jordan Center, adoptees, foster children, group home children and those being treated in homes, many in our care are looking to us to provide their Christmas. As the Christmas lists come from our children and youth, in equal number come the faithful from across the conference and community. These Methodists give in the Spirit of Jesus, seeking to provide for a child whose name they will not know and whose circumstance they cannot begin to guess.
The lists are as you would expect: Star Wars toys, Xboxes, or some other gaming system. In years past, I have been asked by donors if an Xbox or a PlayStation isn’t extravagant and do we have any idea what they cost? These are, of course, good questions that I see as teachable moments. The lists are not a request from MHC, but simply from one of our children. I share that, when people come to shop, they should feel free to act the same as when their own children make out their lists and feel no pressure to purchase everything on it.
I am convinced that when asked whether or not our work has efficacy, we should show them these lists. The fact that our children have asked for something so expensive, and not wished for “less than” means the children do not think of themselves as second class. Their dreams mirror the children with whom they are in school, church and the community. They see themselves as “same as.” This undifferentiated wish means they have a life that has been normalized against all odds.
Again this year, we received lists with PlayStations and Xboxes. One faithful family, who has given for years, came and took a name off the Angel Tree. When they came back, one of their adult children was with them; the entire family had tears in their eyes. They said when they saw a PlayStation on the list, almost immediately, the thought occurred to them that it probably cost what they would spend on each other in total. They also thought that the child probably had little, if anything of their own, and probably had little expectation that anything on the list would actually be under the tree. In a spontaneous act of generosity, the family decided not to buy for themselves, but to purchase everything on the child’s list, including the PlayStation, suitable games, and the toys underneath of it.
As they carried the gifts in and shared what had happened in their home and in their hearts, we all were moved to tears. They even thanked us for helping them rediscover the true meaning of what it means to give.
As we move through Lent, and approach Jesus’ supreme gift of self by willingly accepting the cross, I pray that we all will stand in awe of our loving God, who gives grace upon grace, overflowing and spilling out.