There is a whole lot of sickness and need – the kind you talk about and the kind you don’t.
There are only fragments of families – the sharp debris of suffering littering lineages.
There are not enough places to stay, not enough food to eat, and not enough hope to look past today. It leaves legacies of violence and perpetuating poverty.
They call it the “orphan crisis”.
It makes some people squirm and scoff.
It makes others jump on planes to come see, know and reach.
It makes some scrub their hands and carry hand sanitizer.
It makes others bow their heads and open their hearts and resources.
But how do we make it stop?
I saw it for myself yesterday, y’all. This is the real answer…
YOU HAVE A PARTY.
Not just a pretty, one-more-thing-to-do, ain’t-nobody-got-time-for-this holiday event. A CHRISTMAS PARTY.
It was set to begin at 9:30am on Sunday morning… So, around 11am…
All that sickness, need, starvation, hopelessness, homelessness, familylessness got all dressed up in red and green, walked through the red mud, filled up a sweltering church, and sang. And then partied.
My church decided to have a family Christmas party this year.
The church people come to when they want to encounter “the orphan crisis”.
The church that told me in 2010 that they didn’t know anything about family, but they wanted to learn.
The church whose members only included 3 men 3 years ago, exemplifying the cultural norm and the real issue labeled “the orphan crisis.”
My church ended the orphan crisis yesterday.
The men did what men do – they stood around piles of meat and talked man talk while they cooked.
The women chopped vegetables and chit-chatted.
The grannies sat under the tree and watched the kids play.
THERE WAS A JUMPING CASTLE.
It felt like the greatest family reunion of all time.
There was a feast. More meat than we knew what to do with was served to more than 200 people – many who wouldn’t have the pleasure of enjoying meat or any type of feast this Christmas.
There was dancing and celebration with everyone from the babies to the grannies… and some crazy white girl who just couldn’t resist gyrating with a GoGo. (Don’t judge me.)
Children who’ve never received a gift left with treasures.
In that yard, we were a family.
How can there be an orphan crisis in the middle of a family?
How can there be starvation and poverty at the feast filled with gifts?
A little church in South Africa rallied up what they had… mostly each other… and a really fat pig.
A little group of ladies in Rosebud, Texas pulled together what they had… $360.
That’s all it takes to change the world, folks. Eternally.
For one afternoon, everybody had a place in the yard and in the family.
And, you know what? It was probably the first time some of these young men had the opportunity to stand with other men and learn what men of character talk about.
And the first time there was someone there to watch some of those children play and give them something for Christmas.
It was probably the first time some of those moms stood next to someone else and shared a burden.
It was probably the first time portions were abundant, and everyone knew there would be enough.
All it takes to end the orphan crisis is a family.
And we’ve got that.
Even if skin and names and languages don’t match.
We’ve got that.
The first day of the end of the orphan crisis started right in the middle of the mess with a lot of details that didn’t line up to be Messiah material. A pregnant, unwed teenage girl with no place to stay that was fit for humanity… much less the Savior of the world. But that’s where He came. That’s where He started. In the middle of the filth with a few who believed and with enough to make a family.
That unsanitary start promised that it would be messy, but it would be finished. He promised that He would not leave us as orphans.
The mess won’t stop. But there's plenty of room and reason to get the party started!
My Christmas season took a turn toward disheartening this year. Yours might too. But the Reason of the Season says, “Take heart!” In this world we will have a mess of trouble, but He has overcome the world.
The mess won't stop being messy. But that's where He loves to show up.
So let's get dirty and throw a party.
We have the promise of the happy ending.
All we need is each other until then.