November 3, 2010

Swaddling Cloths Project

I don't write too frequently on specific ministry activities, but I wanted to share this idea for a community ministry opportunity in time for the Christmas season. Over the weekend, our church women's ministry team met to fine tune plans for our Christmas brunch. As a result of our meeting, we opted to do away with the formalities of a Christmas brunch and, instead, have a Christmas continental breakfast. Here's why:

A story recently ran in the local newspaper about a crisis pregnancy center in my very small town, a center I didn't know even existed.  So given the isolation of things in our rural community, I felt compelled to assist. We discussed it at our meeting and decided to use the Christmas brunch -- which evolved into the  Christmas continental breakfast --  as an opportunity for the women at church to serve the needs in the community by gathering the necessities associated with bringing a new life into the world.  Essentially its a diaper drive, but we hope for a variety of supplies for infant care. It's will be informal, lacking the panache often associated with women's holiday events.  We call it The Swaddling Cloths Project (Luke 2:12).

The narrative of Jesus birth has been imprinted in our minds with the Wisemen following the star and culminating in the joy of finding of Jesus lying in a manger. And I'm quite sure it was a joyous sight! But reading the text again in Luke, I was struck by the circumstances of the manger scene. There was no room at the Inn, that's the reason for the manger scene. Hardly ideal circumstances for caring for a young child, though I'm sure they were thankful for shelter. But I wonder, does this  passage still remind us of Jesus' very humble condescension or has it simply become a reason for holiday festivities? This must have also been a very humbling experience for Mary and Joseph. Ok, I concede that Mary gave birth to the Son of God and they had a pretty awesome birth announcement with the Star the Wisemen followed. And we can't forget about the angels who spoke to them. It is fair to say that both the natural circumstances and the supernatural encounters comprised a very humbling experience.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:11-12 ESV)
The Swaddling Cloths Project is an opportunity to reflect on our Saviors humility and to share his love by giving towards the practical needs of others. While Mary and Joseph were hardly in a crisis pregnancy situation, from their human perspective they probably waivered between trust and doubt throughout the pregnancy and after the birth of Jesus. This Christmas, consider reaching out to the crisis pregnancy centers and honor the choice of life by fulfilling some of the practical needs of a young mother or family. If you are able, share with these young people that God is looking out for them and has sent his church to care for those in  need.

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