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I grew up on stories of Sunday dinner at my grandparents’.  They had very little. Sure Grandad had a college degree.  He was a mining engineer in a time when many American mines were playing out.  He took any job he could find, working in the mines when there were open, painting cars and managing a service station when they weren’t.

My grandmother had a huge garden and chickens.  You could do that in West Texas even when you lived in town.  Back then feed sacks were made from patterned fabric.  The girls got dresses from the prettiest.  Next up were shirts for the boys.  The least attractive fabrics became underwear.

Sunday dinner was a production.  The whole family was there and often there were several friends.  Whoever needed a meal.  Anyone who craved fellowship. All were welcome.  They’d just wedge another chair in around the circular table.  Chicken, corn, potatoes, biscuits, greens from the garden, corn bread, beans.

As little as they had, my grandparents shared.  Grandad always insisted it was a Southern thing.  I don’t know about that but I did get the rest of the message loud and clear.  What the good Lord gives us, we are meant to share.

At my grandparents’ table, no one ever went away hungry.  And there was also space enough to wedge in one more chair.



I saw the best overheard quote today.  Apparently, a mother was heard telling her daughter, “You aren’t really helping someone if you aren’t helping them in the way they asked you to.”

What does that have to do with justice?  We as a society have a tendency to decide how other people should live. Why don’t they leave the reservation and have a good life?  Why don’t they give up their traditional dress and dress like us?  Why don’t they do it our way?  Be like us, do like us, and you’ll get the help we’ve decided you need.

About a year ago, we had a fantastic speaker at church.  He discussed the workings of the Presbyterian Church USA in Egypt.  Before they offered any help whatsoever, they opened a neighborhood center.  They talked to people.  And when I say talked, I mean that they listened.  They got to know the neighbors.  Only when they had a feel for those they were among did they ask what help was needed.  And people came to them.

This wasn’t flying in clothing or food. This wasn’t a monetary donation.  This was getting to know people and their values and dreams, their worries and desires.  This was giving them what they truly wanted vs what we think they should want.  That’s a big part of social justice.

Diversity has a place and we have to learn to honor that even as we give them the help they want.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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