A most interesting Christmas Eve

I like to ruminate.

That is simply the act of thinking on, and reliving, words, events, actions.

It’s almost 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and I’ve just walked in the door from the Waterstreet Restaurant downtown where we fed somewhere around 300+ homeless, down-on-their luck, and needy folks. I literally helped turn out the lights in the restaurant.

And now I’m ruminating.

  • “Why are you doing this? I mean, seriously, why?
  • “I’ve got to get to Fayetteville and I’m gonna walk it. How far is it to Fayetteville anyway? Be truthful with me man!”
  • “I can’t believe that I’m sitting here on Christmas Eve eating like this! I haven’t eaten in two days and I’ve been staying under the overpass. I’ve tried to find work, but there isn’t any. I heard that somebody was giving away free food tonight so I came hoping to get something to eat. I never dreamed I’d get a feast. You have no idea how much I appreciate this.”
  • “I walked here from Leland. I’ve been in town all day looking for work. I can’t find s***. But I found you. I don’t eat much these days ’cause I don’t have money and today I’ve eaten nothing. It’s hard not to get depressed, especially on Christmas, especially when everything is going wrong, especially when you’re hungry and don’t know when you’ll eat again. But lookey here. Food! Tons of it! My tummy is so excited that my brain thinks it’s happy.”
  • “Hey man, can I get one of those free Bibles?”
  • Toothless mouth, broken glasses, layers upon layers of clothing and a “ripe” smell, all wrapped around a big grin and twinkling eyes: “Merry Christmas? Yessir, you have given me one!”
  • “Don’t you have a church in Orlando?”
  • “I’ve got a buddy with a bum leg lying up in the woods… is there any way I can get some food to take to him?”

And that was just a sampling.

I bussed tables, I carried food, I worked on the food line, I carved up whole turkeys and hams (I even ate some of the meat pieces… is that allowed?), I swept, I took food to a bar down the street, I heard a drunk Santa trying to sing Silent Night. But more than anything, I observed.

I saw a church doing what a church should be doing. I saw Jesus followers engaging the down-and-out, lending a sympathetic ear, evoking a shy smile on wrinkled, hard faces. I saw lots of people I don’t even know from the same church I go to… lots of volunteers, giving up their special night with their family to serve. That amazed me. It made me proud. It got me excited.

On a night when many churches hold special Christmas Eve services to honor the birth of the Christ child, Lifepoint became the Christ child to more than 300 people.

I think that is quite traditional… in a first-century church type of way.

3 responses to “A most interesting Christmas Eve

  1. My eyes are sweating. Sounds like an awesome night. I can’t wait to see where this leads. Thanks for being Joe!

  2. I watched you alot that evening and I remember wondering what was going on behind that forehead of yours, but I realize now that was the wrong question. I should have wondered what was going on inside of that big heart of yours. Now I have an idea. Thank you Joe for capturing the event in the manner in which only Joe could. I love you my Brother!

  3. YOU inspired me! Shucks, all I did was help hold the floor down… you were buzzing around like a bee in clover. You were definitely in your element!

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