‘Who can add to Christmas?’
‘The perfect motive is that God so loved the world.
The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son.
The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life’.
(Corrie Ten Bloom)
Christmas, the moment ‘love was born’. A love that gave all to save the world. Rev. Billy Graham wrote: ‘The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas’. And so I ask ‘Is our hearts open this Christmas to receive, to give, to worship, to adore the Lamb of God from Heaven?’ My own heart is drawn to those who hold little handfuls of thorns, thorns of sickness, loneliness, memory. Can we cease for a moment from ‘tradition’, and remember those who sit in silence and alone? With tenderness of heart, reach out with ‘Good Will towards men’.
We remember our childhood days were filled with a baby lying in a manger, shepherds sitting silently on a Bethlehem hillside, wise men travelling from afar, the appearance of a star, all leading to a rose without thorns, the Rose of Bethlehem, born to glorify the Father, born to wear the thorns for me.
Sadly this Christmas will be different for many near to my heart. No gifts to wrap for Denisa, Dada, Florin, Robi, Deborah, John …… My heart breaks as I think of these precious Mums bereft their little lamb and still in the houses visited by the Emanuel Hospice staff, pain remains, sadness, tears, death and grief. I ask you to lovingly wrap the gift of prayer and remember both staff and patients. Tabita (42) with two small little girls in the final stages of terminal illness; Baby Alexandra (8 months) diagnosed with a brain tumour, she is not responding to treatment; Little Emanuel (8) diagnosed with leukaemia; Dr. Sonia R in terminal stage of cancer with metastasis over her body; the family of Doru (59) who was called home a few days ago. These are real people not just cases, the thorns of life are crushing just now, they are in the winter of their life. Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine, Love was born at Christmas …
Kevin is progressing well, so excited as he walks with the aid of crutches. The aid of prosthesis is required during sleeping hours to ensure his feet will not revert back to the previous position. Kevin is still smiling and knows we are praying for him.
As I stepped outside this morning, the air felt cold and unwelcoming; clouds covered the sky, the trees had shed many leaves now wet and withered from the battering winds. My mind again wandered to the oncology wards where parents pace the cold and unwelcoming corridors harbouring deep sadness that their little one will not be home for Christmas. Monkstown Baptist Sunday School filled amazing shoe boxes for the special boys and girls – Thank you for bringing a smile to beautiful little faces.
As I linger with my thoughts I think of the Cighid Adult Orphans who have entered my heart; tears fill my eyes when I compare the preparation of Christmas Homecomings for those who are loved, the welcoming arms of family, the calming thought of ‘Going Home’. Thirty Three Female and Sixteen Male residents live in a forest area two hours from Oradea. This morning as I write to you I have received confirmation special gifts are on their way to these special people. A friend whose heart was ‘touched’ gave this special delivery wrapped in love – I wish I could deliver these special packages in person, to share their joy – perhaps next year? In our business, we ‘pass by’ unaware of the pain or hurt within. Will they ever be home for Christmas?
Change resides in each one of us; as I look back it seems like yesterday since my own childhood days. But as I remember the blessings, tokens of love, meaningful words, it brings a measure of appreciation for pleasant places of memory. Some time ago I shared the story of Sister Anna who loved her children so much, she gave two away to the state orphanage for years. What other decision could she make since she had no money to feed them! Change indeed has taken place for this family, Anna is now reunited with her three children, working in a local factory in Oradea enabling her to provide a small flat with two small bedrooms in a pleasant neighbourhood. Winter is very severe, as the state control the heating system in Romania. Therefore the costs can be high and she is only one of the hundreds of families who knock at the door of Casa Grace (House of Grace) having perhaps no food, no wood for even a small flicker of a flame ……. In this threadbare world they live still they have hope, expectations. They are grateful for your food parcel as they arrive in their patched clothing. I look on this as a ‘ministry’ an opportunity to melt their hearts of stone evident by a lack of love, just someone to care enough to show it.
Another family living in such poor conditions in a remote village. A single mother, very sick, requiring medical tests but without money to pay. Each day a struggle to find food for her son (15) without wood, cooking facilities, trying to survive on £15 per month. The food parcel sent by Tell Romania is the only source of food received. This is only one of the many desperate people who need to know we care. Other families require two food parcels each month. £5 weekly will change hungry eyes into eyes of joy. How much more can we give? Our heart of love!
‘Please Sir, may I have some more’ is a famous line from the musical Oliver. Twelve children in one family, one tiny little boy standing beside the broken cooker – hungry! The wouldn’t ask for a cooker but the Lord provided a new cooker – the team of Casa Grace minister day by day but they need our support to continue to feed the hungry, reach the unloved and touch the rejected homeless shivering under the bridges of a freezing Romania. Some only know hardship and poverty, living in endless fear of violence and abuse. Their eyes speak of weariness and sorrow, partings. Stop! Pause for a moment. Can we calm the storm within the tossing waves of life?
My ‘Super Hero’s’, how I love them. The orphans, down syndrome, abandoned little ones. Sister Dora does an amazing job in holding these treasures in her heart. I love the personal messages daily reminding me of my commitment my pledge to love and care for ‘These My Little Ones’.
As we stand on the brink of 2019 let us reach out to those without hope in this life that in the clamour of their lives their hearts can be revived, their strength can be renewed as they will listen for the still voice of the Lord. There is hope in days of hopelessness through the sighs of brokenness.
‘LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS’ Yes, love came for you, for me. Love was His story, calling our name. A love that is limitless, amazing, beyond words and this love is Ours!
I have highlighted prayer points for Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace, Cighid Orphans, Child Life Romania. In the new year I will update you on the work of Iochebed, Bucharest Street Children, The Farm (Cluj).
Let us bow down, let us worship the Rose of Bethlehem whose fragrance breathes hope and whose beauty touches every seeking soul.
What can I give him poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man I would do my part
Yet what can I give Him?
Give Him MY HEART
Shirley, 18 December, 2018