While attending Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, one of my student jobs was assisting at the Inn on Broad, a homeless shelter housed at our church. The homeless families went to a large center during the day, but came to the church in the evening to sleep. During the Christmas season, we decorated a Christmas tree in the “living room” and made sure that there were gifts for all under the tree.
My husband had to work on Christmas Day, and knowing that I would spend Christmas alone, I asked our pastor if we could let the homeless families stay at the Inn on Christmas Day if I would come to spend the day with them. I thought it would be nice for them to be able to spend the day in a quiet place that seemed more like home, rather than at the shelter where all the homeless spent their days. There was no place at the shelter for quiet, just the incessant noise that comes from groups of people huddled together in one place.
We had to plan for meals, so we asked other churches in the community to help us out. One group came and served breakfast that morning. Another would come and serve lunch, and we would provide dinner. With all of that taken care of, we were excited that our plan had worked out so well.
After we finished breakfast, I went to the living room and sat in a rocking chair and watched as the children opened their gifts around the tree. And then a young single mother came up to me with her new baby and asked if I would hold him while she went to take a shower. I took the baby in my arms and as I rocked and looked into his eyes, I realized I was sitting in a homeless shelter on Christmas morning holding a homeless baby, who but for the Inn on Broad, would have had no place to lay his head. A true GodSTOP moment – God sent His Only Begotten Son to be born in a manger, because there was no room in the Inn. I sat in awe as I realized what a blessing God had given me for Christmas. He let me hold a babe on Christmas morning and remember the gift He gave to me. I was blessed far more than those who I had prepared to serve that Christmas Day. God’s love for us is the greatest gift we will ever receive.