Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pure Religion

Last Christmas we learned about the Advent Jesse Tree. The family that invited us to participate explained to me one of their Christmas family traditions. When their daughter and son were young, they would receive a lot of presents from family for Christmas. The parents wanted their children to have a more giving heart and decided that they would make Christmas special for someone else. Their inspiration was from James 1:24
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
The parents with their children put together a plan. They decided they would pray through out the year for the inspiration to know of a widow who would need to feel the love of Christ at Christmastime. Usually this would be the first Christmas without their spouse. Once a widow was identified they would learn who she was and would prepare gifts with her and her children in mind.
 The giving vehicle was the 12 days of Christmas. They called it their 12 Days Ministry. Instead of giving one item and building to 12 gifts, they would give specific items they knew the family would love. They would leave a note like a ransom letter out of magazine letters so the family could never identify them. They giggle as they would tell of their night time marauding and daring dashes to safety from being discovered.

Another widow sought for aid after the death of her husband. Elimelech and Naomi had two sons and decided to move to Moab because of the famine in Bethlehem. Both sons married women in the country they were living. At the death of Elimelech and his sons, Naomi decided to return to the land of her heritage. Orpah decided stay in the land, and Ruth said, "for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."

Ruth followed Naomi. Ruth supported them by gathering the left over grain in the fields. Boaz saw this and asked the gathers to leave enough to support Naomi and Ruth.
Day 9 of Advent
Naomi knew the custom of her people was that the widows would be taken care of by family members. Naomi instructed Ruth on the custom and how to have Boaz claim her as a wife. Boaz being honorable did  marry her. They were promised that through them the Savior would be born.
Boaz took care of the widows in his care. He followed the example that the Savior would teach about caring for the lonely and poor in spirit.

Last Christmas the above mentioned family were directed to a widower. He in turn would write each evening about the gifts he received, but more importantly he wrote about the change he felt come over him to feel the joy of the Christmas season as he had his first Christmas without his wife. He felt the heavens were opened to him, and he was blessed.

At first he wrote, he was curious to know who his "angels" were. But as time continued, he respected their wish to remain anonymous. Each night before picking up the gift, he would offer a prayer to heaven for them. On the 12th night, he shared his manuscript with his "angels." They don't know how the 12th night turned out. This was the first detailed written response they have had. I shared this post with the family, and they responded by saying,

Since we started the 12 Days ministry, we actually haven't exchanged gifts with anyone (friends or family so the journal we received from him was on only gift but undoubtedly the best gift we've ever received from when we used to exchange Christmas gifts. I would venture to say it was the best gift any of us has ever received, regardless of the gift-giving occasion.

As this family shared this story with me, I felt the love of the Savior and his mission is being carried out by his faithful followers on this earth.

How do you plan to share the love of  Christ this season with someone?

1 comment:

Sue said...

Giving is definitely the best part of Christmas. We always like to make it a big part of ours.

Great post, again.