Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It was a Holy Night

This week's theme with Patty Wysong's Meme is a church related activity or event. Click below for more stories or  to join in on the fun! http://www.pattywysong.com/2011/11/jollydaze-4-n-me-meme.html

                                   “Oh Holy night, the stars are brightly shining…”
This beautiful song always evokes a memory of a very special time when as a teen-ager, I spent Christmas Eve with the homeless on Skid Row. Although frightened at first, I acclimated to the environment, and  soon shared in the Spirit of Christmas during this eye-opening experience.

As part of their monthly ministry, the church  I attended at the time provided a worship service at a rescue mission in Los Angeles for all who wanted to come. Congregants of all ages met at the church and traveled the 25 mile distance to sing, share testimonies, and give a short sermon. This particular year, the date fell on Christmas Eve so there was a smaller turnout; however, my parents and boyfriend joined in the adventure

Meeting at our church on that chilly afternoon, we loaded up the rickety old church bus and inched our way through heavy traffic and into the skid row area of Downtown. Darkness arrived the same time we did. Unkempt men sat against the wall off the building and dully watched as we unload the sound equipment. Being young and immature, I felt vulnerable around the disheveled men. I was fearful of what a drunken man might do, so clustered with my friends.

After a meal was served, time came for the program to start, I noticed that the building was nearly full and that some men were asleep in their seats. However, most of the attendees just sat staring us as we filled up the stage. We all joined together singing Christmas carols and the pastor told the story of the first Christmas. As I listened and observed the congregation from my seat in the choir loft, my heart started breaking for those men who had no one. I wondered what had happened in their lives that had led to them to be here. As I was only a teenager, I did not know what I could do to help make their life a bit better.

The highlight of the service occurred when my boyfriend played a heavenly-sounding solo on his guitar: “Oh Holy Night.” I could see tears in the eyes of some of the scruffy men and others were outright sobbing. I could sense the power of Christmas in that room, as well as in my own heart.

Following the program, several families gathered at one of our member’s home for food and fellowship. The nice warm home, decorated so lovely, and  with an abundance of delicious food seemed so anti-climatic to what we had just experienced. I realized that I was blessed to have friends and family that I could be with, unlike the broken men we’d just left behind. I prayed that our time there had put a little light and love into their bleak lives.

To this day, I think back to that poignant night and feel sad because broken and homeless people are even greater now, and include whole families. And yet, I feel a warm glow because we brought the “good news” to the people and were able to share our love in a tangible manner. That  truly is the spirit of Christmas!


  1. "That truly is the spirit of Christmas!" Amen!

  2. Just beautiful, Barb. What an experience.

  3. A good reminder for all of us to be thankful for family and friends.

  4. As I read your story I could see it taking place. So sobering and a reminder of the abundant blessings in my life. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. What an experience, Barb. Thank you for sharing it with me--it's something we...I...need to keep before me. I'm so blessed.



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