On Sunday, at church, I also launched our Project Christmas campaign, to assist a needy area family referred by the county Department of Human Services office. (The countywide Christmas Project gets its list of needy households not only from social-services rolls but also from referrals by concerned friends and neighbors, other helping professionals, and self-referrals.)
I actually took on the task of choosing a family, out of two ring binders full of referrals. It was a sobering experience, holding all this need in my hands, turning the pages and trying to decide which family to select on behalf of the congregation. ("And this is still early in the season," remarked the coordinator. "You should see it in another month.") The family I chose -- mom on disability, two kids -- listed "FOOD" multiple times on its holiday wish list. The mom, in the space reserved for her own wishes, remarked, "I don't want nothing special."
This is one of those undertakings that I've always wondered why we haven't tackled as a congregation. And the answer seems to be because noone's thought of it before. We tend to be very inward-turned; maybe because many of our own families are struggling with illness and financial difficulty. And because our church is in a remote corner of our county, far from the county seat or indeed any population center, folks don't always seem to know whom they belong to as far as community resources. Someone from church recently told me she was very surprised to learn that our county transit service operates in the area: "Who knew?"
The Evangelism Committee -- which consists of Fellow Traveler, another person and myself, decided to spearhead the adoption of a Project Christmas family, because the Gospel "good news" isn't just a spiritual construct -- it's also loving by doing. That's how we see it, anyway.
And the good news about our good news is that it seems to be exciting people in our congregation...which is especially good news in these tough economic times. I was just asked, via e-mail, by a church member if our Project Christmas family needed help with a Thanksgiving meal as well.
It's a good thing.