Manton UMC
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Pastors Notepad Dec2019/Jan2020

 

Pastor Jeff Swainston

 
Jeff's Jottings - Decembar 2019/January 2020:
 

The holidays can be an especially tough time of the year for the less fortunate in our communities. The weather changes and those who have been living in tents all summer now have to find a place to live. Those who have been living on garden vegetables all summer long now need to find another source for food. This problem is closer to most of us than we think.

Our church receives requests almost weekly for assistance for someone in need. They need gas to get to the doctor, they haven't had a decent meal in a few days, and they need help finding a place to stay are all common requests this time of year. I have a desire and a longing to help as many people in need as possible. Actually, it's more than a mere desire to be helpful. Sometimes it is a strong conviction that I am looking straight into the eyes of Jesus Christ.

But the same question always seems to arise. How do we know we are truly helping someone in need? How do we know that this person is not just trying to take advantage of us? The ultimate answer is that we don't. But in the spirit of the Christmas season we have to ask ourselves, "Do we practice justice, mercy, and truth on the most basic human level?"

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us not to judge others. He challenges us to pay attention to our own attitudes and motivations and not to be concerned with the failures of others. He reminds us to ask for what we need.

So back to the question of wondering if we are being taken advantage of by someone who really doesn't need the assistance. The real answer is that it doesn't matter. There are no guarantees that the person I give food to is really hungry. But I do know that if I were in their situation, I would appreciate receiving the help I need. That is how I would want to be treated so why wouldn't I do the same for someone else? I can respond to the need presented to me and leave the true outcome to God.

Today at every possible moment do justice, practice mercy, and reveal truth in the most basic, easy, and human way. It is in this small step that our souls will find renewal, that our hearts prepare to celebrate the Christ Child, and that others can see the true light. Merry Christmas and blessings to you all!!

Pastor Jeff