I recently received an e-mail that began: “It’s that time of year when we need to be thinking about the less fortunate.”  Really?  I can’t recall anywhere in the Bible where Jesus tells us to think about the less fortunate on an annual basis.   Granted, the Christmas season is typically the time of year when most individuals and organizations make a special effort to help people in need.  But our giving and helping should not be restricted to the holiday season.

A few years ago, our Sunday School class decided to adopt a family for Christmas.  I contacted Social Services to get the name of a family who needed help.   I was surprised when the case worker told me they didn’t have many families on the needs list.  The reason, she explained, was because everyone wants to help at Christmas, and most of the families who needed assistance had already been “adopted”.  I remember her specifically saying that she wished people would help throughout the year, and not just at Christmas.  After all, she said, people are hungry and need clothes year-round, not just at Christmastime.

I had a similar experience last year when I called a local assisted living facility about scheduling a time for our choir to present a Christmas music program for the residents.  I was told their calendar was booked through December with people who wanted to do something special at Christmas.  She mentioned that there were plenty of openings throughout the year, though.  We did offer a Christmas music program, but we did it in January, still during the Christmas season, but after all the holiday hype died down.  The welcome we received was overwhelming.  We were invited back and since then have made regular visits to this facility to sing for and with the residents.  Many of them shared with us that they don’t have many visitors and feel forgotten.  Although they enjoy the music, they are especially touched that we take time out of our busy schedules to visit with them; and, that we come throughout the year, rather than just at Christmas.

As a result of the poor economy, many have lost their jobs.  Some of our neighbors have lost their homes and are turning to shelters for housing and community soup kitchens for food.  But it’s not just food and shelter that our brothers and sisters need.  Maybe someone in your neighborhood needs help with the yard work or home repairs.  Maybe someone is recovering from surgery and needs someone to clean the house.  Maybe someone needs a ride to the grocery store.  Maybe someone is lonely and would like to have a friendly visit or some companionship.   And the list goes on.

This year, let’s remember that we are called to love and help our neighbor throughout the year – not just during the Christmas season.

Serving JesusFor I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)