Advent Hope Through Candy Canes & Stuffed Animals
“Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Months ago my girls were cleaning out their room and found numerous gently used stuffed animals that they were ready give away (some still had tags on them). I mentioned this to Martha Henry who runs the food pantry in Seaside and she said, “Pastor Tim, bring them here because the kids need ‘reading buddies’ when they pick up their books.” Martha not only distributes food every day as she partners with CPC, she also gives away free books in her free-little-library adjacent to the food pantry to feed the children’s minds.
This past week, one of our church members gave our family 19 stuffed animals to supply Martha Henry with some additional brand new “reading buddies". The needs of families using the food panty have grown as we approach Christmas. The girls tied a candy cane to each stuffed animal along with a note sharing a Christmas-themed gospel message - a poem about candy canes sung to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”:
Now a Shepherd’s staff you see
My Good Shepherd cares for me
I am weak, but He is strong
He is with me all day long.
Shortly after Kati and the girls put them on display next to the books and food, several were taken by families. Our prayer is that gospel hope accompanies these small gifts. Martha prays that every item taken would somehow connect someone to Christ. That perhaps even a candy cane, a stuffed animal and a simple message might help someone know the love of Jesus in a deeper way.
Jesus fed people with food that filled their stomachs and spiritual food that fed their souls. This Christmas season, the Advent hope we have in Jesus is so desperately needed by our community. Our Good Shepherd wants his love to be known as we remember the many who are hungry, thirsty, sick and lost right now. He is ready to use us to give the world a glimpse of his goodness this Christmas.
Living Out God’s Word
Would you consider helping Martha and our Deacons keep food, supplies, books and other essentials stocked these next few weeks? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information about meeting these critical physical and spiritual needs during this Christmas season.
Jesus, thank you for being a Good Shepherd who seeks us out and carries us home. As we take in the wonder of this Christmas season, may even a candy cane point to your love and the hope we have in you. Break our hearts for the physically and spiritually hungry and show us how a small act of kindness might reveal your great love today. Amen.