Christmas Fruit Baskets and a Heavenly Experience
Take Time to be a Blessing
My how time is flying. Seems in the microwave society in which we now live and the digital age, where there is instant communication, time just gets away from us. As I gotten older, I notice it more and more. Seems like only a few days ago we had a fall festival and decorations that were stored in my barn were dug out only to be redistributed with additions of pumpkins, gourds, and a few Pilgrim looking characters for Thanksgiving. All those have been put back and stored in plastic bins in the barn loft and now our place is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
My wife will spend the next week or so decorating our yard and the split rail fence which meanders down the driveway with evergreens adorned with the pretty red bows she has hand tied. I think there may be a Santa Claus up in the barn loft and a Mrs Santa who will soon be sitting on our front porch ready to greet any visitor who may ring our doorbell. We do live in the country with plenty of rabbits, squirrels, raccoon and possums but believe it or not I just saw two deer with red bows around their necks up under that old oak tree that seems ageless. I love it!
Christmas is a time for giving and there is no greater joy than to give someone a gift that aren't expecting. I want to share one of my experiences that happened when we first moved back to our beloved Green River Community after having lived in a subdivision for almost 7 years. Country folks are some of the most generous and one of the traditions is to take fruit baskets to the elderly during Christmas. A short while before Christmas that year a list was compiled of the elderly, some who were in rest homes and some who lived alone, who would be the recipients of a fruit basket from our church. We planned to meet and deliver the baskets on a Saturday morning about a week before Christmas. As the day began to approach, I wondered who I would be going to visit and what I might say to those with whom I would visit and the excitement began to build. My old truck had been my prayer closet and many times in those times where I would be praying, the sweet communion with the Lord was so precious and I ask the Lord to be with me as I delivered those fruit baskets.
As it happened this Saturday we were short on people who came to help and I would be delivering my assigned baskets alone. I was given a list of 5 or 6 and loaded the nice baskets wrapped in a colorful wrapping into my old pickup truck. The morning was one of our coldest of the year and the North wind was blowing hard. My first two stops were uneventful. A widow woman met me at the door and I introduced myself and explained why I was there. She smiled and accepted her basket as I handed it to her through the door. Wishing her a Merry Christmas, I hurried back to the warmth of my truck. I turned the volume up on my radio that was playing some old carols. To be honest, I didn't feel like I was at all alone as I continued to my next stop.
The next stop was at a small house on the main road through the mill village I had grown up as a youngster. I would also deliver one to the trailer behind the old store building next to this house where the widow of a local businessman lived alone. When I knocked on the door of the first house, I could hear a voice, "I'll be there in a minute." The wind had picked up and standing outside this door getting colder by the second my patience began to wear a little thin. The door opened and the heat from the old coal heater rushed into my face. The couple had cats and the stench of cat litter boxes almost took my breath. I thought to myself,"I gotta get out of here fast!"
As I explained who I was and presented the fruit basket to this lady, I noticed her hands were trembling. She broke the deafening silence feebly thanking me while taking the basket from my hands. She told me with her voice breaking,"They come got the old man this morning and took him to the hospital." She broke down in tears as she began to sob uncontrollably, her frail wrinkled face touched my heart as she asked, "Would you say a prayer for me and him." I told her I would be honored to pray for her and her husband. As I began to pray the words just seemed to come so easily. I couldn't begin to tell you those words I prayed that day but this one thing I do know, the words didn't come from me. It seemed that another Person who had been with me all morning in my truck, had come alongside to honor us and intercede as only He can do. When I finished praying, I bid her a Merry Christmas and would continue to remember her and her husband in my prayers.
I finished delivering my other baskets that morning and learning later that the EMS had indeed responded to the house on the main road earlier that morning. Sadly, this poor woman's husband had died en route to the hospital. For a moment in time, I felt that it was not an accident or happenstance I was allowed to delver that fruit basket and it was Divinely appointed. Each year the memory of that morning comes back to my mind and I realize that Christmas means more than decking the halls with boughs of holly, toys, office parties but lies in the reality of the giving of ourselves to others, regardless of how insignificant the gift may seem to us.
As the Christmas season comes, may we each stop to consider the reason for the season and the greatest Gift given to mankind. The words found in the Bible say it best from Paul's letter to the Romans found in these verses. Hoping your Christmas is the best ever.
King James Version (KJV)
18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Celebrating the Real Meaning of Christmas
How refreshing it is this Christmas season to see many still hold to traditional values. With all the hoopla of Black Friday and cyber-Monday behind us, many area churches are having Christmas programs with special cantatas and one of my favorites, drive through Nativity. The Christmas story for me never grows old and seeing the live Nativaties near our home are always exciting.
Still we live in a preverse world and some in our own state of North Carolina have forbidden the display of live Nativity scenes. Even in our local curb market which has long held a history of family values has expressed a disdain for any but secular Christmas songs and have forbidden the old favorites telling the Good News of Jesus and have forbidden traditional "religious carols" to be sung, played live or over the facility stereo. It is a sad time when the real values of this Holy Day are felt to be offensive to shoppers. I am thankful there were some who would not allow one persons opinion to completely disregard the values a vast majority still hold precious and feel should continue. A group of carolers were quickly asembled to go and sing the traditional hymns about Christ and His birth. Interestingly, the detractors left the building.