The following is adapted from an article by Duane Miller, pastor of Living Hope Church (Alliance), East Canton, Ohio, originally posted on the cmalliancekids Web site.
“In all honesty, we would rather not have you come.”
That was not the answer I expected to hear when I called the activity director of the nursing home to set up a time for our church youth to sing Christmas carols to their residents. It was the Christmas season, and traditionally, that’s when youth groups show up to share the joy of the season.
“Let me explain,” she continued. “This time of the year we are swamped every day of the week with every imaginable group walking our halls singing carols.
“But the other 11 months of the year, nobody remembers us. If you want to be an encouragement to our people, bring your youth during the off season and just sit and visit with the people—they would love that.”
Ouch! She was right.
So I told her we would take her up on her suggestion and call after the first of the year.
Change of Plans
But this meant going with “Plan B”—whatever that was! The kids had wanted to go Christmas caroling, so we decided to do that but change the location and format.
So one week later kids of all ages, as well as adults, met at our church for a family night of neighborhood caroling. Our church was located in a declining urban area, and going door-to-door to share the love of Christ in song just wasn’t done—until that year.
At the beginning of the evening, we would walk up onto a front porch, and a motion sensor would turn on the porch light. As we began to sing, someone would peer out from behind curtains. By the second song, they would stand in the doorway, smiling and singing along.
Soon, porch lights were turning on at neighbors’ homes in anticipation of our arrival.
When we were about one-and-a-half blocks from the church, we came to a house that was dark. It seemed like no one was home, but we decided to walk up onto the porch and begin singing “Silent Night.” Soon, the front door opened a crack, and we could see someone standing in the darkness.
As we finished singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” the door opened, and there stood an elderly woman. With tears streaming down her face and her lips quivering, she whispered, “Please don’t stop.”
A Sacred Moment
She stood there weeping as we sang several more carols before speaking up.“We’ve lived here over 29 years, and this is the first time anyone has come to our house and done what you are doing.
“My husband died a little over two months ago, and I feel so alone. I didn’t know how I was going to make it, but you guys have given me hope and helped me to realize that the Lord has not forgotten me. I can’t thank you enough.”
Instead of singing our usual “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” as our final song, we gathered around her and prayed.
What started out as an evening of merriment and silliness suddenly turned into a sacred moment of ministering to a lonely, heartbroken widow as the Lord used us as an answer to the cry of her heart.
That night we had the awesome privilege of being the Incarnation of the gospel to a hurting soul.
Though we never saw her again, in spite of numerous attempts to reconnect with her, we saw the Lord wrap His arms around her and draw her close to comfort and encourage her.
And although that evening of caroling in our neighborhood was our “Plan B,” it turned out to be the Lord’s “Plan A.”
So when your well-laid plans and preparations for the holidays begin to unravel, step back and look for how the Lord is moving you into position to be part of His “Plan A.” He may be placing you in the path of someone who needs a tangible reminder of God’s love and grace—or maybe to speak a word from Him into their lives.
Whatever it might be, it will change lives, including your own.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).
Praying that you have a blessed Christmas!