“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…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” ~Matthew 25:35-36, 40
The 22nd annual Give Away Day here at Legacy proved to be the biggest and best yet. God brought to us a record 517 families, a record 2,832 individuals. We gave them food and clothes and household appliances and shoes and toys. We prayed with them and studied with them. We held their babies and played with their kids. We hugged them. We laughed with them. And in a few instances, we cried with them.
It’s impossible for me to single out one part of Give Away Day as my favorite. Every minute of the day is a sacred minute, set apart for God’s purposes for God’s people in the name of his crucified and resurrected Son. From the 7:00 am meeting in which we dedicate every part of the day to our Lord to the final clean up and exhausted hugs twelve hours later, Give Away Day is a beautiful living breathing moving portrait of what it means to be the Body of Christ. One body, many parts, young and old, teens and senior citizens, singles and entire families, members working their 22nd Give Away Day and members who haven’t been with us 22 weeks, all coming together, sacrificing, serving, cooperating, exercising gifts of love and mercy and hospitality and teaching and generosity and compassion in a unified effort to join our God as fellow laborers in his Kingdom.
After Give Away Day, there’s not a member of our church family who couldn’t preach the sermon the next day. At the very least we all come together Sunday morning with our own set of sermon illustrations. Our own stories. Our own moving experiences of what it means to serve others in the name of Jesus.
I love taking the families through the building. Rita’s four children were angels. One of them is literally an angel. Or “Ahn-hel” as I was reminded. He’s 2-1/2 years old. And he was a handful for almost two hours. No dad. He’s never met his dad. And somehow we bonded. He kept grabbing my face with both of his little hands and pulling me close. We made noises together. Funny noises with our mouths and our tongues, clicking and spitting and sqeaking with each other to our own great delight. I lost him three times during that two hours, twice in the clothes racks and once after he’d been given a beautiful stick horse and “ridden” it to the top of the stairs in A Pod. We made each other laugh. I kept up with his water bottle. We chased each other out in the parking lot. We prayed together after we loaded up their car with everyday items you and I take for granted but for which they were so grateful.
Francine was shopping for her three children, two teenage girls and a three-year-old boy. I kept having to remind her to get things for herself. I kept having to steer her to the ladies sections and telling her to take things she liked. She kept apologizing. “I’m sorry,” she said over and over. “I’m just thinking about getting clothes for my babies.” Francine’s sister was there with us in the parking lot when we prayed. They were both overcome with emotion. And gratitude. They must have said, “Thank you” and “Praise Jesus” a hundred times.
Maria came through with six children. Six kids. Ranging in age from 17 to six-years-old. We loaded up two Home Depot baskets with clothes and shoes and toys. Nine-year-old Rogelio was showing off his brand new football. Rusty had found it for him. He wanted me to throw it with him in the parking lot. He told me this was his first ever football. Manuel had walked us outside to pray and asked Maria what she really needed us to pray for. And this obviously needy, poor, overwhelmed, hungry, poorly-clothed woman said, “Please pray for my husband. He’s not a Christian.” And we did.
And then Phyllis. Phyllis found out in May she has liver cancer. She has no husband. She’s the lone care provider for her severely physically and mentally handicapped 14-year-old son. He’s in a wheelchair. He wears diapers. She feeds him and changes him. She begged me to allow her to go into the Infants Section of our building, even though her son is not a baby. She needs baby wipes. She needs washcloths. She needs ointment and lotion. And Billye and Dianne and Ada loaded her up. And when they brought out a huge stack of blue changing pads, Phyllis lost it. “You have no idea,” she kept saying. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea. You have no idea.” And she’s right. I don’t.
I should have had other people preach yesterday. I tried to proclaim our rescue from the life-choking clutches of Satan. I tried to preach about how our Savior has delivered us from all the powerful tools the devil uses to separate us from our God and from each other. And I couldn’t do it justice. I didn’t even get close. If I were wise, I would have asked seven or eight of our members here to jump up and share their Give Away Day stories. That’s the sermon.
Our God is still in the business of redeeming people. He’s still on a mission to rescue people who are stuck behind the bars of sin and sickness. He’s still active in liberating those who are paralyzed by disease and death. Our powerful God is alive. And he’s defeating Satan. And he’s robbing hell.
And we are blessed to join him in that work.
I take great personal pleasure in the failings of the Dallas Cowboys. In light of the way this team is built and structured and in relation to the gospel the owner lives and preaches, my position is certainly defensible. My great joy in yesterday’s disaster in the desert is tempered a bit by all the bad news coming out today. Romo’s broken pinky finger has him out for four weeks. McBriar’s fractured foot has him gone for at least six weeks. Felix Jones will miss at least two games with a hamstring. More surgery for Sam Hurd.
This team could very easily go straight into the tank, where it seems to be heading anyway. They could lose three of their next four and fall straight out of the picture. But some of the joy will be stolen because they’ll have the built-in excuse of missing these injured players. That takes some of the fun out of it. It lowers expectations. It’s not as dramatic.
It’s so much better when they fall apart at full-strength.
For the first time since 1984, the Texas Longhorns are the #1 team in the regular season AP poll. They’ve never been ranked #1 in the history of the “KK&C Top 20.” Let’s see if that changes late tonight.
Thanks to Jesse V for the Give Away Day pictures.