Tidings of Comfort and Joy

From God our Heavenly Father, a blessed Angel came; And unto certain shepherds, brought tidings of the same…

– published by William B. Sandys, author unknown

What was your favorite Christmas gift? Slippers? Pajamas? A sweater? A favorite food? Are you the kind of person who completes research on what would be the “perfect gift” to the surprise and delight of the receiver? Or are you someone like me, who struggles with figuring out that certain creative gift that is “just the thing”?

Fundamentally, it seems that at the core of our gift-giving tradition is a desire to give “comfort and joy” to someone, like the Christmas carol says. For me, it also seems that the older I get, the more I enjoy giving gifts rather than receiving them. I can remember my mother saying to me, “Save your money; I don’t need a thing!” And she was probably right, because I feel that way now – I really don’t NEED anything. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate gifts, but it makes me think of all those who have not been so blessed with people trying to make their lives more “comfortable and joyful”.

As I was driving from the train station in Wilmington a few weeks ago, I passed by the Sunday Breakfast Mission. Outside on the sidewalk was a folding table and a couple of aluminum foil serving trays with a makeshift paper sign, saying “hot dogs”. Behind the table were rows of beach folding chairs in pretty worn condition and bags of possessions that belonged to a long line of homeless men who were waiting to eat. That scene was replicated in a different way the following week when I drove by the Emmanuel Dining Room and saw a long line of men, women, and children waiting to enter for dinner.

As I thought about these scenes, I thought about the fact that I was “driving by” – an observer. But then, I also thought about all the things that we do at school and at our parish church to support so many initiatives intended to help the homeless and those struggling with day to day obligations – Advent Angels, Adopt-a-Family, cooking meals for Emmanuel Dining Room, food drives, Community Service programs, tag-day fund raisers – all intended to bring some “comfort and joy” to others that we probably will never know.

And that was the next thought I had. Is it time to get more involved, to get to know the stories of the people whom we are trying to help? Is there a more perfect gift we can give of our time, our listening, our empathy, beyond the food or clothing? And how do we do this?  Needless to say, we all lead very busy lives and have to schedule in most things to get them done.  If we were to “get involved” with those we try to help, where do we draw the line on our commitment – or do we?

I am not sure what the answers are for me to these questions, and I expect the answers will be different for each of us. But I continue to consider the questions as we begin this new year of resolutions. And I share them with you, as members of the Archmere community.

The members of the Archmere community respond to the call to help, not only at Christmas or the prescribed times of the year, but throughout the year when they recognize a real need that has not been met. I continue to be grateful for and impressed with the generous spirit of the Archmere community – past and present. One of my resolutions for the New Year is to be reminded with gratitude of all of the support that we receive at Archmere, and to find avenues to share that support in real and meaningful ways with others who need “tidings of comfort and joy” in their lives each day. May your New Year be filled with the blessings of good health, happiness, contentment, and peace.