A Season of Beginnings

 It’s the day after Christmas.  The gifts are all opened, the turkey’s going into reruns, and thousands are heading back to the mall to exchange the gifts they just got for something they apparently need more.  What a strange and wonderful holiday!  It’s rich with tradition and consumed with controversy—the Christians think it’s too secular, the secularists think it’s too Christian.  It’s fitting, though, that the day is full of irony.  It does, after all, celebrate the birth of the One whose life was, to many in His time, one of contradiction, and whose message still today sparks debate.

To those of us who value the sanctity of the day and are enriched by the traditions that surround it Christmas is a time of joy and thanksgiving.  It is a time to step back from the challenges of everyday life and enjoy the company of loved ones and friends.  The giving of gifts takes on special meaning as we ponder the power of Jesus’ teachings and the remarkable grace we receive from His death and resurrection. 

All of the arguments that come with the holiday—Is it over-commercialized?  Should there be a nativity scene at the courthouse?  Can we still say ‘Merry Christmas’ in a country overcome with political correctness?—don’t mean that much to those who are trying to live the life that Jesus taught.  His message is profound in its simplicity—love one another, take care of those in need, forgive, honor God.  And Christmas is the day we celebrate the beginning of the singular ministry that gave us these guidelines for a joyful life.

We had a pleasant Christmas day.  We’re far from our loved ones here in Americus; all of our family lives on the other side of the Mississippi.  But we got to visit with them all and see the grandkids through the marvel of Skype.  We live in a remarkable age.  I can remember calling Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas when I was a child.  There were two rules for long-distance calling in those days:  talk loudly and talk fast!

Now we look forward to the New Year.  Just as Christmas celebrates a beginning, the New Year too brings an opportunity to look forward.  2012 is going to be a very good year for The Fuller Center for Housing.  There is much to be done and new initiatives are calling.  One requires us to take a fresh look at the housing crisis, which doesn’t seem to be getting better.  There are now over 18,000,000 vacant houses in this country, and with that a growing number of families who live in motel rooms and cars.  We’ll be looking for ways to connect some of those dislocated families with the vacant houses.  That should keep us busy for part of the year!

It’s estimated that 80% of the world’s population lives in poverty, which means that at least that many live in poverty housing.  It was Millard Fuller’s contention that fixing the latter goes a long way toward fixing the former, and he proved it thousands of times all around the world.  The Fuller Center will have its seventh anniversary in 2012, and we intend to celebrate by housing 700 families in 700 days.  A small step when measured against the need, but each journey begins with small steps, and every righteous undertaking requires a beginning.

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