“And she brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” - Luke 2:7
Every Christmas, we celebrate this moment. Two thousand years later, it’s still remarkable to think about, isn’t it? That our Savior, the Messiah, the King of Kings, was born in the humblest of circumstances – all because there was no room in the inn.
No room in the inn. I think about those words and wonder if they are one of the reasons we focus so much on giving during the Christmas season. None of us could be there for Christ on that night in Bethlehem so long ago, but we can be here, now, for each other.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” - Matthew 22:37-39
Because of COVID-19, I wondered if people might find it harder to “love thy neighbor” this year. After all, we’re all understandably focused on maintaining social distance, flattening the curve, and doing what we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this awful virus. But recently, I heard several stories that show how, even during a pandemic, so many people are still doing everything they can to ensure there is “room in the inn” for their neighbors and colleagues.
In honor of the Christmas season, here are three of those stories. I hope you find them as uplifting as I do.
Blankets 4 My Buddies
C.J. Matthews is a thirteen-year-old boy from Georgia with a giving heart. Every Christmas for the last few years, he has organized a special flag football game called the Giving Bowl. This game serves as a fundraiser for his own charity that he calls Blankets 4 My Buddies. People donate to provide blankets to children who are struggling in some way.
Because of the need for social distancing, C.J had to cancel his annual game. But his work continues. As C.J. puts it, “I know there’s a lot of kids in my community who are on the streets or in shelter homes not getting enough food to eat or are lonely.”1 So, C.J. put the word out that he was organizing a special drive-thru donation event. And people responded. 150 blankets were donated – and the money he received will enable him to give away 1,000 more. He is also donating “comfort bags” filled with activities, masks, snacks, hats, gloves, scarves, and more. “It feels really good to me because I’m helping another soul, another soul to be happy in life,” C.J. says. “I want [people] to know that comfort and kindness is something anyone can do any time or any place.”1
Do Unto Others…
Rewind back to April. The pandemic was still fairly new – and very scary. In many places, hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. One of those places was in New Orleans. As cases surged and beds ran out, the nurses there put out a call: “We need help.”
Hundreds of nurses from other states responded to that call, including 200 from Kansas City, Missouri alone. Those reinforcements helped lower the “nurse-to-patient” ratio – which had been six patients for every single nurse – down to only two patients. That’s critical to maintain a high standard of care.
Now, fast forward to November. This time, it was Kansas City’s turn to weather a surge. “We were asked by our manager if we would be interested in coming to help the Kansas City nurses out,” one New Orleans nurse explained. “We were helped so much and we knew what they were facing, and it was only right that we paid them back.”2
So, the New Orleans nurses traveled to Kansas City. They stayed for weeks, working over the Thanksgiving holiday to ensure their brothers and sisters in arms had all the help they need.
“We just called and asked them for help… [and they responded] without hesitation,” said a Kansas City nurse. “Having a group of people who were willing to drop everything and come help makes me so proud to work here.” 2
Giving to the Giver
“Giving is a joy,” says Kazi Mannan.3 That’s why this restaurant owner in Washington, D.C. has always offered meals to the homeless – free of charge, no questions asked.
But then came the pandemic. Because of social distancing restrictions, business plummeted. Mannan held out as long as he could, but by the summer, he had to face a painful truth: He simply couldn’t afford to continue giving meals away for free and still maintain his business. Even though he wanted so badly to give, he longer had enough to give. So, he did what everyone should do whenever they need help: He asked for it.
Before long, the donations started pouring in. Not just from around Washington, but from around the world. People from Bangladesh, Haiti, England, and many other places all donated. $20 here, $100 there. Some gave their names; most donated anonymously. All were moved to give to a man who has given so much to others. As of this writing, Mannan has received over $300,000 dollars! Now, he more than enough to resume offering free meals for the duration of this pandemic.
“A few days ago…I had tears of fear,” Mannan says. “I have today tears of joy!”4
It warms my heart to know that, even when times are hard, people are still doing what they can to find “room in the inn” for those who have it even harder. If there is anything that I can ever do for you, please let me know. I am just a phone call away – and there will always be room for you in my inn.
On behalf of Tina & myself, we wish you a Merry Christmas!
1 “13-year-old’s charity provides blankets to kids in need,” CBS News, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/blankies-4-my-buddies-charity-provides-blankets-to-kids-coronavirus-pandemic/
2 “New Orleans nurses return favor to Kansas City nurses who helped during COVID-19 surge,” CBS News, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-nurses-new-orleans-kansas-city/
3 “Donations pour in for Washington, D>C. restaurant that offers free meals to the homeless,” CBS News, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donations-pour-in-for-washington-d-c-restaurant-that-offers-free-meals-to-the-homeless/