Christmas Eve. My family from Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina was beginning to gather at our home. Days had been spent baking goodies, wrapping gifts and decorating – all with great anticipation. All my siblings and their families, my parents, and several aunts and cousins were arriving. Excitement and noise permeated our home. And then the phone rang.
One of my pregnancy clients was in labor. I pulled out of my driveway and began the journey to the hospital. I should have been focusing on the ministry and the support I would be bringing to her; instead, I began to feel sorry for myself that once again a holiday was being interrupted by the demands of my job. So much for celebrating Christmas! My family would continue their festivities without me. They would feast on homemade bread, pies and goodies, and our family’s favorite Brunswick stew. They were sitting around a roaring fire with a tall, fragrant Christmas tree nearby; I was driving in the cold, drizzling rain.
I arrived at the hospital and went to her room. Intense labor had come quickly, and luckily her need for support and comfort overcame my self-pity. She was all alone and afraid and I was there to be her support.
It was time. A baby was coming, and that was all that mattered. As I watched life begin – a cry and then a breath taken – all the miracle of God’s blessings came tumbling down. The mother was strong and brave, the baby was beautiful and innocent. As we all held and kissed him and marveled over new life, a peace and a thankful spirit came over the room. He was alive! She was done with her labor. Christmas had truly been born!
As I slipped into the midnight Christmas Eve Communion service to join my family, I reflected on the ways in which God turns His selfish beings into creatures of service. I remembered Mary and the fear she must have felt as she gave birth to Jesus. I marveled at the faith it took to face family and friends. I felt close to her, for I had just been allowed to witness the birth of another child from a young woman who was afraid and isolated.
Years later, I think of her each Christmas. At Miriam’s Promise, time after time, the poverty we see is more intense than just the financial struggle our clients face. For many of them, the biggest hole in their lives is someone to care. We are reminded constantly of this poverty of love, and our hope is that we bring compassion and caring to each person we meet. Jesus came as this tiny little bundle of the greatest love – as His people, it is our privilege to share that holy love with others.
Debbie Robinson, Miriam’s Promise
(Note: Lebanon FUMC will be collecting a special offering at our 2018 Christmas Eve services during Communion to support Miriam's Promise and their families.)