On the evening of December 23rd, I went out with the Salvation Army to inner city Baltimore in order to hand out hot meals to homeless and/or needy persons. Being only a little more than a day before Christmas, I figured there would be a larger number of people in line for meals that usual. Since people buy presents for kids at this time of year, I assumed that some people who are normally able to make ends meet would need a little help feeding themselves and their family.
When we drove out to the locations, we discovered that there was a large number of people who were in need, but we also discovered that there were many other people and groups passing out food. At one homeless shelter, we passed off several boxes of prepared meals, to find several pizzas being delivered for free as we drove off.
In honor of the Christmas season, it seems giving and charity was abounding. The driver of the truck I was on had a slightly different view. He said, “Oh yeah. Tomorrow if you come out here, there will be food just lying around. But come back a week from Monday and you won’t see any of that.”
It struck me just how tragic this all is. When we actually care and decide to do something about the issues which surround us, we can really do something about it. The problem is, we don’t care enough.
I understand that just handing out food for free all the time isn’t some kind of perfect solution. My point is that when we commit to being generous and charitable, we can really make a difference. Should it happen only once a year? Of course, I say no.
So how can we make sure that we all give the effort to meet the needs in our communities, but not at just one time? Here’s my idea: we start a new idea that to celebrate your birthday, you do charity work.
That means each day will be covered throughout the year. And it only asks each person to do it one day out of 365. You can’t be much more reasonable than that.
Additionally, it takes an event that we normally direct toward ourselves: getting presents, eating cake, having a party; and we do something to remind ourselves that we’re supposed to be living a life of sacrifice, not just indulgence.
I’m not saying birthday cake and birthday parties are bad or evil. Just that maybe it’s a good time to dedicate ourselves to doing the work of God’s kingdom for another year.
So the next time you have a birthday, call a local charity and ask how you can volunteer on that day. If the million or so people who have a birthday in the United States each day took that chance to show their thanks to God for another year by blessing others, what couldn’t we accomplish!?
Just a thought.