Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taking Christmas to the Streets

Dear Beloved Family and Friends,
From all of us at JERICHO MINISTRIES
Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
With so much gratitude, Betsy

We decided to take Christmas to the streets this year…table, chairs, tablecloths, candles, carefully wrapped presents, a centerpiece, the traditional leg of pork dinner and a specialty dessert the Hondurans call torrejas.... it’s kind of a rich French toasty type thing. We brought the works! Hae Young, Blanca, and I were super excited with this plan to share Christmas dinner with our friends on the streets. The only problem: there was not a soul in sight as we parked the van near the curb. So we decided to wait a couple of minutes to see if anyone would show up.

I had gotten it in my head to share a tradition with them that I had grown up with. During Advent, my parents would have us sit around the dinner table on Sunday eve and we would have our own little family service. They would assign a task to each of us depending upon our age. One of us would read the appointed scripture, another would lead a carol while yet another would carefully light the number of candles indicated by the number of Sundays that had gone by in December. Then Daddy would read the explanation of the scriptures while we listened with rapt attention. I loved it! I thought perhaps the women and men on the streets whom we have grown to love would love it too. And so that’s why we found ourselves on that cold winter eve waiting on the streets for someone to show up for our Christmas fiesta.

Nelson and Lorena came first. Nelson, in his tiny miniskirt, helped us unload the long table and the chairs and then the others came too, seemingly out of nowhere. We easily set the table and to my surprise, they quickly settled down and the same Spirit that led those devotions I participated in as a child showed up to lead this celebration. Tita seemed excited to be assigned the part of the devotional reader. Miriam squirmed with joy when assigned the part of the scripture reader. As she smiled the light gleamed off of her golden front tooth. The most excited was Lorena. She was to light the white candle of the Advent wreath which is called the Christ candle. It represents Him and His coming into the world. She asked me several times if I was sure about choosing her for such a thing before she finally settled happily into her role. Jessica, my friend from the very first night of visiting the streets, would light the other candles and Marvin would blow them out at the appointed time. Everything was ready.

It was one of those moments when you lose track of time. You get lost in the moment and in the glory of it all. Jesus coming to earth, God made man, the Divine crashing into the ordinary not just once, but over and over in moments like these to let us know that He is Real and that He loves us. He spoke to us through the scriptures and then again as we broke Christmas bread together. We spoke of His return and Jessica in particular wanted to know about the signs of His coming again. They lingered at the table. There wasn’t the normal scuffling about to get quickly back to work or the frantic jerking of their eyes back and forth to check out which client was driving by. No tonight they were there.... all there, drinking in His Presence and Love by candlelight.

Just before we blew out the candles Jessica whispered to me that this year, maybe just maybe, she would come to Jericho, that she would leave this life of degradation behind. Just maybe.

On the way home we were overwhelmed with feelings of joy and love. They didn’t accept Christ or make any commitment to give up their wicked ways, but they were touched by Him. My mind was abuzz as I puzzled over why we love them so…..these women and men who only seconds before we arrive are obviously involved in actions too despicable to even mention. And seconds after we leave they are back at it again. The only way I can explain it is God. Isn’t that how God is? He loves us even when we are stuck in the miry clay, trying desperately in our own strength to become unstuck, insisting on our own way. And He loves us even when we show no signs of leaving our wicked ways. He simply loves us. He woos us by shedding His light into our darkness.... by showing us how desperately we need Him. And then He waits for us to choose His way so that we can leave our ways behind.

Pray for Jessica, that truly she will leave her ways behind and that she will choose the Light of Life, the Giver of eternal life.

I pray that your Christmas is full of His Light igniting your life for His glory!

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