On Thanksgiving, we take time aside to give thanks for all the blessings we have in our lives. And then we turn our attentions immediately to Christmas, seeking to bless our families with gifts and thinking of what sorts of returns we’d like to have for our efforts. It’s a time when our abundance is so fresh in our minds, but it’s so easy for us to get so wrapped up in how it manifests itself in our own lives that we forget to remember that when God provides abundance, it’s meant to be shared.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
1 John 3:17 (ESV)
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
Proverbs 19:17 (ESV)
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16 (ESV)
Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Matthew 5:42 (ESV)
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
Proverbs 14:31 (ESV)
So, in this brief time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’d like to point our attention to a few avenues for helping the more needy among us, especially as the nights get colder here in Massachusetts.
Many towns in Massachusetts have at least one body providing help to the homeless. The Homeless Shelter Directory keeps a list of these shelters across the nation, broken down by state and then by city, with contact information for volunteers and the physical location for those seeking shelter. Of particular interest, however, would be the Springfield Rescue Mission, which is in desperate need of financial help as the recent explosion downtown has forced it to close its doors until it can raise enough money to carry out needed repairs, causing a host of problems for those who rely on it. If you have more time available than money, Craig’s Place, a shelter in Amherst, runs largely on a volunteer staff from local churches who mind the place overnight.
Of course, the poor are not limited to Massachusetts, and there are a host of ministries that reach out to those in need in foreign countries. Due to the nature of the season, I would like to especially point out Operation: Christmas Child, a ministry that accepts small gift packages and then distributes them to poor children around the world on Christmas, sharing the gospel with them and their villages in the process.