Jesus always had a heart for little kids, stopping everything for them. I’d stopped everything too.
“Come, Lord Jesus, come,” we said in the prayers at church last Sunday. Then later in the service, announcements were made looking for volunteers for a couple of service projects. More food and warm clothing was being collected for victims of Hurricane Sandy and presents and groceries were needed for 25 struggling families in the neighborhood. “Sign me up for that,” I said to the person in charge.
The next day I got an email with the names of three boys: Joshua, 10; Jeremy, 8; and Julian, 5. Yikes, I thought. I’m too busy to do this. I dashed out at lunch, dreading the surge of shoppers on 34th Street, and darted into a toy store. At least it wasn’t too crowded. I strolled by the Lego aisle, and lingered at the shelves of cars and trucks. Yes, the perfect big yellow dump truck for a 5-year-old. Come, Lord Jesus, come, I muttered to myself.
What would an 8-year-old want? When my boys were that age, they spent hours flying plastic superheroes in their small hands, putting them through battles, giving them one heroic contest after another. Yes, in another aisle, one plastic superhero with wings like an angel’s. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
I paused. What about a 10-year-old? I wanted something a little more sophisticated. Not a ball, not a game. Something that lit up and made noises would be fun. An airplane? I didn’t like what they had. What about a rocket ship? I picked one up and pushed a few buttons. Wow, it was really great, almost flew out of my hands, the perfect thing for an imaginary journey to stars and galaxies. “For you, Joshua.” Come, Lord Jesus, come.
No line at the counter. Wow. And a very helpful sales clerk. I looked at my watch. Fifteen minutes, not bad. Fifteen minutes that I’d spent imagining the lives, or at least the playing habits, of three needy kids. Was this all part of the commercialization of Christmas? Perhaps. But Jesus always had a heart for little kids, stopping everything for them. I’d stopped everything too. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
I took my bag back to the office and at the end of the day I found some red-and-green wrapping paper in the back of my cabinet. I wrapped up the presents and put cards on each package. For the boys’ mom I bought a $25 gift card to the supermarket. Jesus had an even bigger heart for moms.
This Sunday I brought my presents to church and we said that same prayer again: “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” This Sunday it reminded me of Joshua, Jeremy and Julian and their mom, people who needed God’s kingdom as bad as I did, maybe even more. Someday it would come, someday soon. For now I could pray for people who weren’t exactly strangers anymore, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”