Heard a story from an interstate friend I caught up with today (we only see each other once a year, and it was a heart-warming visit) about her sister's church in the western suburbs of Sydney. After attending church on Christmas morning this week, there was only stragglers left in the car park when a wet and bedraggled family made their entrance.
Turned out the late-arriving family of two parents and five children had received a church flier in their mail box, advertising a free Christmas lunch. The family had walked literally for miles, in the rain and cold to get to the church. Only problem was the free lunch had been held on the 23rd.
My friend said that of the three remaining families at the church, one had raced home and cut up their Christmas ham, bringing it back for the family. The other two families had raided the church freezer for cakes and meals. They'd then driven the parents and kids back to their home.
I wish I'd known this story when we were tucking in to our ham (which my mother-in-law cooked fantastically) and pulling crackers, and opening our gifts and feasting on gorgeous dishes and desserts. We had so much fun together and did remember to thank God for his many blessings throughout the year and especially at Christmas time.
But it would have been a timely reminder again of just how much we had to be thankful for, if we'd known about that family walking miles to church in the rain.