There was a little boy I met last Tuesday morning and I forgot to ask his name.
As is my normal practice, I walked down from my study to the Activities Building on our church campus to have prayer with a special group of volunteers. Every Tuesday morning we assist families with their various needs including groceries, helping with utilities, rent and providing financial counseling. On Tuesday evenings one of our attorneys volunteers his time to provide free legal counseling.
This particular morning the building was already crowded with volunteers and clients for our Benevolence ministry. There a little boy at the front door greeted me. He was quite friendly and polite and said, “Excuse me sir, how do I get to the playground?” Evidently he was someone’s child who came to our church for help. I explained that during this time the playground was reserved for our preschool but I hoped he would come back sometime and play.
I learned he was in the fourth grade and that he was looking forward to the Christmas holiday because – and he said this with a big, toothy smile – his birthday was December 26 and he would be ten years old. I did not know why he was there or who was with him. I do not know what he will get for Christmas let alone his birthday. I do not even know his name. I do know that even though he did not ask me to feel sorry for him I did all the same.
He really does not need me to feel sorry for him. Anyone with half a heart can feel pity. In fact he seemed to be fairly happy. He does need me, whether he knows it or not, to remember him and love him.
And he needs not only me, but others to do something.
When God gets into us, like a stealthy babe in a manger, the question wells up, “what should I do?” Not because we think we can work our way into God’s grace, but precisely because of grace and gratitude and joy that we know there is nothing else we can do but respond. We know the “Christmas” story well enough: shepherds gawk and magi bring gifts and Mother Mary ponders, but what about the rest of us?
I cannot believe how blessed I am not to have to stand in line hoping someone can help me with my utility bill or my groceries. Yet I know it could easily be me. I am not concerned about where I will live this week, this month or this coming year. I am blessed and I am grateful.
I pray that I not grow smug and I ask God that I not forget. I never asked this boy’s name and I still do not know it. Yet God knows his name and has not forgotten about him and neither should we lest we miss out on what is happening in some little village in the middle of nowhere birthing a miracle.
It is indeed the season of giving. Can you give your time and attention to dignify the life of another? Can you give even just a few dollars to provide a bit of hope? Can you give your compassion that your heart may grow full? Will you learn the name of a small child and wish him Happy Birthday?