This year is already a week old. Stores are in the process of clearing the shelves, offering shoppers huge deals for any Christmas decorations and New Year’s items they no longer want. Storage tubs are everywhere, encouraging us to pack up our trees, ornaments, wreaths and other symbols of the holiday, until next year. The wave of people going to the store to return or exchange items has also decreased. Those who measure the economy during this time will be crunching numbers and announce whether or not this has been a banner year. That is the way most of our retail world works. For them, the opportunity to celebrate Christmas is gone. I’m not sure if they even pause between taking away the Christmas items and bringing out the Valentine Day ones.
Many of us have also begun to undecorate our homes. As I write this article, I am celebrating El Dia de los Reyes. It is the 12th day of Christmas. On my Christian calendar, it is also the Epiphany of the Lord. Is it possible that only 12 days later, we need a reminder that Jesus didn’t come for just a season, but to transform the world forever? According to the Gospel text of Matthew, which contains the narrative of the 3 Wise Men (Matthew 2: 1-12), they were the first Gentile messengers to carry the news of our Savior’s birth to other nations. Lost in antiquity is what happened when the 3 Wise Men returned to their homes. We never discover if anyone else made the journey to see the baby Jesus. We can only wonder if, like in the film Ben Hur, one of the Wise Men returns to find Jesus as a grown man. Balthazar, never lost his sense of wonder and amazement each time he beheld Jesus.
I am hoping the same is true for all of us. The spirit of Emmanuel is with us, not only on Christmas Day, but also each day of our lives. I am hoping that in the New Year one of our resolutions can be to keep the spirit of Christmas alive each day. With that in mind, I am inviting each faith community in the Midwest District to help with a giving project.
Below is a flyer, asking us to continue to make prayer shawls, lap blankets, cancer hats and port pillows for those who are in need. Can we take a little more time to knit or crochet just one more shawl? Can we cut, measure and sew just one more lap blanket? Or can we even try a new pattern and make a hat to replace hair that has fallen out because of chemotherapy? Can we learn how to make a port pillow and use up some remnants? And as we take on each new project, can we lift up those in prayer who need to know the spirit of giving is alive and well in each of us? Items will be accepted at the listed drop off sites between now and Ash Wednesday. I am hoping that each church already has or can begin a new ministry that reaches out with the spirit of giving to those in need of prayer and healing.
This story and challenge will be featured on UMC.org in the near future! Videographer Jessup Warnock — from UM Communications in Nashville — came (April 6-11) to take photos and conduct video interviews for this story. A few photos from our shoot at Cornerstone Church: 84th Street Campus, Midwest District Office and Spectrum Health: Butterworth Campus are below!
Detailed Flyer with links to patterns is ⇒ HERE
- Big Rapids Area: Big Rapids First UMC
- Muskegon Area: Mercy Health Mercy Campus Please email Jan Johnson for delivery instructions email@example.com
- Grand Rapids Area: Midwest District Office