The advice is as old as time itself: if you want to "feel better" about your life or your circumstances, find ways to do something for someone else. It's old advice, but it still holds true today.
The church of which we are now a part has a long-standing tradition of serving hot, homemade Thanksgiving Dinner to people in the community: shut-ins, the homeless, the poor, and the lonely. This is done through delivering meals, or serving them in our fellowship hall. Now my personal tradition involves waking up and baking pies, side dishes etc., to take to our own big family shindig in the afternoon. But I really wanted to see this outreach endeavor up close and personal, so I did all my baking the night before and headed out to the church on Thanksgiving morning. I admit I was a little bit skeptical, because after all this is a holiday, and most people are busy sharing it with loved ones, not working at the church!
The first thing that blew me away that day was the sheer number of volunteers that turned out to help. It was truly impressive: every "demographic" represented in our church from the richest to the poorest were there to pitch in and help. Secondly, hats off big time to those who organize and make this thing happen: what a well-run ship! Third, the numbers of people served that day was somewhat staggering to me. I still don't have the final numbers: there are drivers who deliver meals to shut-ins, etc., and then there are servers who serve food to any folks who may come in and sit down for the meal in the fellowship hall. Last number I heard, was that well over 500 people were served a meal on Thanksgiving Day.
Finally, I found myself having to keep my emotions in check even as I filled dozens of take-out containers with food. Because as I was doing this, I was watching those who came in "off the street" to have a turkey dinner. There were the elderly folks, just eating up the attention and love they were being shown, there was the homeless lady who sat off in the corner, still unable to escape the kindness and love that was being extended, and probably most heart-breaking to me, there was the young couple with two little boys, who just seemed to have a "down-on-our-luck" weariness emanating from their very persons. They even seemed a little embarrassed to be there at all, but it was Thanksgiving, and it was a free turkey dinner. And you'll do anything when you have kids. I cry for them all, because I know so well that there but for the grace of God, and the love of family, go I. And that is so much more than a cliche'......
My part in Thursday's success was so small, almost imperceptible....but it was truly my honor and privilege to be a part of it. I felt very proud to be part of a congregation that sincerely seeks to put feet to Christianity, and a face to Christ.
My only regret was that I didn't haul at least a couple of the children along to know the joy of serving and the reality of our blessings. Next year this will be a family endeavor.