In a nativity scene the figures of the Wise Men stand out-they seem regal and exotic; however, they were probably not present on the first Christmas day. They visited Jesus and brought Him gifts at a different time than the shepherds, and I wonder what we could learn from their timing. We accept the idea that the Wise Men are out of place in the manger scene because they are generous, charitable, and wise.

I have worked at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission for five years. I can tell you one thing: Christmas time is BUSY! I am not just talking about extra holiday meals, toy shopping, events for families, and ugly sweater parties. There are so many volunteers and donors who give at the holidays for which we are thankful. We are able to bless the guests that call our shelters home with a memorable Christmas season because of their time and thoughtfulness. Then the New Year finally rolls in, the Mission sometimes feels deserted- people may not recognize the need to serve a meal or spend time reading with kids is still present in the months that follow the holidays.

The quiet that happens around here in the early months of the New Year feels empty. While it is nice to catch a breath, there are still opportunities to serve. Volunteers are needed to put away Christmas decorations and leftover donations a few days after New Year’s, assist with homework club when the kids living in our shelter go back to school, and the “routine” opportunities. Serving at Christmas is fun and it is in the spirit of the holidays to be extra generous and gracious, but the Wise Men were a little late with their gifts and continued to offer grace and community for Jesus.

Some simple tips for serving are:

  • Make a hygiene kit to keep in your glovebox for when you see someone in need.

  • Call the community resource staff at your child’s school to see if there are students who could use some assistance during the winter.

  • Bring a bag of canned goods to your local food bank, or drop off some items on Jenny’s list for the Tukwila Weekend SnackPack

The Wise Men showed up a little late to the party, but there were no complaints about their charity being delayed. Perhaps consider doing Wise Men duty this year: Plan on volunteering or donating in the early months of 2016, or consider giving on a day that has no special meaning. We would love to have your presence year round! Thank you and Happy New Year!

-Dawn Stenberg

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