The Empty Stocking Sermon from The Bishop’s Wife
Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.
Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.
But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.
Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.
Homeless singers achieve their dream by singing at White House, Lincoln Memorial
December 21, 2015 By Colby Itkowitz – washingtonpost
Shawn Neal once sang “We Shall Overcome” at a civil rights march in the early 1960s where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke. Tyran Austin was a music major at Cheyney University near Philadelphia. Marvin Coine had sung in his high school choir.
Now they sing together.
Neal, Austin and Coine are homeless, living on the streets of Atlanta. The circumstances that got them there are different — and yet strikingly similar: a misstep, a lost job, a wrong path.
Every night they find shelter in a church basement that welcomes them in from the cold. And it’s there where the church musical director invited them to form a choir.
And so it came to pass that in the quiet chilly morning on Monday, the three men stood with 13 others on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, gathered around the slab of etched marble marked as the spot where King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, and started to sing.
Dressed in thick bubble jackets and black knit beanies, holding red folders with lyrics, the men clapped and stepped side to side in tandem as they belted out the lines of the African American spiritual Christmas carol “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.
Tourists paused, redirecting their attention from selfies and turning their cameras on the men. And suddenly, these men, who for most of their days feel invisible, were seen.
Later the choir would stand in the ornate foyer of the home of the first African American president. And sing again.
It was only last month that Donal Noonan, a burly, bald Irishman who serves as a church musical director at the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Atlanta, received the call from the White House inviting his choir of homeless men to sing during one of the residence’s holiday tours.
Thinking of others: Youth group brings gifts to YWCA homeless shelter
12/24/15 By ALEX DAVIS – bradfordera.com
It was two days before Christmas, and at Wal-Mart some Bradford area children were creating a stir.
The youth were after toys –– big and small –– and had $100 to spend, an award they won for their float in the seventh annual Cruisin’ Into Christmas parade held downtown in November.
But youth group members of the First Presbyterian Church in Bradford weren’t doing last-minute gift shopping for themselves. They decided to use the money for another purpose — thinking beyond themselves this Christmas.
After carefully choosing out gifts Wednesday morning, children and adults assembled at the homeless shelter at the YWCA Bradford on West Corydon Street to make sure children have presents to open on Christmas day.
The deliveries are for four children at the shelter who range in age from 9-months-old to 13-years-old.
Nonprofit spreads cheer to Bay Area inmates on Christmas
12/24/15 By Kevin Kelly – Daily News Staff Writer
MENLO PARK — A local nonprofit organization is continuing its tradition of bringing cheer to San Mateo County inmates during the holidays.
JobTrain, a job training and career placement facility in Menlo Park that offers free services to low-income Bay Area residents, has been baking cookies for inmates since 2008. This year, students in its culinary arts program whipped up 6,500 cookies of 10 varieties, enough for every inmate to receive one of each kind.
The cookie gift bags were launched 25 years ago by another nonprofit organization, the Service League of San Mateo County. The League picks up the cookies from JobTrain, adds other goodies contributed by churches and individuals to bags decorated by local students, and distributes them to inmates on Christmas Day.
Before JobTrain joined the good-will effort, many inmates were unaware that the nonprofit organization providing the treats could help them on a career path when — and even before — their sentences were over. The cookie making goes hand in hand with a work furlough program for non-violent inmates at JobTrain that started up roughly a decade ago.
“A good friend of mine with the county of San Mateo, Elihu Kittell, came to me about 10 years ago and said I’m always complaining I need more students, and he’s seeing people sitting around in jail with no vocational training,” said Adam Weiner, a chef who teaches culinary arts at JobTrain.