A few years ago, Seth and I hosted what we called an Old Man’s Hat Party, alluding to the nursery rhyme: Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat. It was absolutely some of the most fun we’ve ever had, with the spread of food and hot drinks – our friends from several circles joining in one boisterous room. We had placed a hat by the back door, and as our friends joined us, they put money in the hat and then wrote their favorite charity down on a small piece of paper. At the end of the night we drew three charities and got to hear about the good works of each, organizations like Kidmia, Mercy House, and 99 Balloons. After hearing and secretly rooting for one, we drew one final time to decide who got all the money. This year we knew we had to do it again and wanted to shift the focus even more to a time of worship. I had planned to move most of our furniture out of the way and not worry so much with the food spread. We sent an invitation to about 80 people, but as it got closer to time and our little one, Titus, became more ill, I became overwhelmed and sent out sad word that we would be canceling the party. Pure Charity was to sponsor it this time, and I was broken-hearted to not have all our friends in one room doing such good together for those in need, but somehow I knew I couldn’t handle it all. I struggled but finally felt resolved to not overdo our family.
The truth is that we’re worn out from worry and hospital stays, from ministry and so much output without stopping to take nourishment in. We may have been inviting so many over because we hadn’t worshipped together since Titus’ immune issues came up. One always has to stay home with the baby.
So when our dear friend texted and asked for the information to get into our evite account, I knew I smelled a rat. I knew they were up to something that involved calling US the needy ones, and I didn’t like it one bit.
Our friends, our Jesus family, they came to a cancelled party at our friend’s home, and the house was loud with laughing, and there was a table of food, and a record player sent the music out until we gathered quietly together and sang such praise to Jesus. I could have been on my face. I could have disappeared, been like dust under the couch. I was so small.
My girlfriend who hosted corrected my begging when I had asked them not to do it. She assured me that it wasn’t about us, the hat by the door to help cover our doctor bills. When we prayed together for Titus, we began with a silence that said nothing but holy, holy, holy, then we whispered Titus’ name, and we said words like JOY and healing. We proclaimed the goodness of the LORD even when we didn’t understand our circumstance.
Something happened in me because of these friends that hasn’t happened in a long time. When I first heard the gospel, I knew I was starving for righteousness with no way to fill myself. This night, the night of the Hijacked Hat Party, I felt it again: my nothingness, the hunger and then the filling, Jesus in the bread, the words read over our ears. How little we have to offer, how tiny we float about in this universe, but then how one hands you an envelope like a payment for work you never did.
I associated myself with the poor, not from the position of giver but rather as receiver, and it hurt and it healed. Suffering, in all its varying degrees, seems to work that way, intertwining wholeness with brokenness.
Worshipping among friends, I looked up to one raising his hands, the one who had lost his daughter. I felt that I looked on ones who reflected Jesus. I felt the compassion of Christ to us all, how He took such poor position on our behalf. I considered it all joy, felt Christmastime in my bones. What an honor it is, church, to be among those who take and eat of such lavishness, how absurd to receive such love.
post by Amber C HainesLeave a Comment
Tears here – tender care within the Body of Christ is a beautiful thing.
Amy Hunt says
This receiving He’s teaching you … it’s worship.
Rich blessings, sweet Amber. Of peace. And immense love.
This learning to receive–it’s a living parable. How He binds our wounds with good gifts, and we learn to accept them.
“Suffering, in all its varying degrees, seems to work that way, intertwining wholeness with brokenness.” AMEN!!!! Love this SO much!!! It could be a mantra for many special needs fams! -miram
We too have recently found our family receiving such lavishness. Medical circumstances with our youngest son had us broken before God praying healing over him. Our faith family and extended friends and even strangers have lifted us up during this time in a way that feels almost uncomfortable for this mama who is used to being a giver. I have realized during this journey that God calls us to also receive His extravagant love. As we travel our road on this side of healing we are humbled and grateful. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I share in your heart song! Thank you for sharing!
First, I LOVE this Hat Party idea. My kind of party…..one with purpose! Secondly, how wonderful to see your circle of friends acting once again as the arms of Christ….wrapping your family in a tight holy hug!
What a blessing it is to belong to such a tight knit loving group.
So beautiful, friend. So glad you were poured over and loved.
This story just guts me, Amber.
beautiful….your words, His lavishing love. Thank you
Your words always empty me, friend. We are beggars. All.
Just beautiful! So inspiring! May all of us have a love that “abounds more and more”!
Diana Trautwein says
Glory, glory – the church at its best. And relax into it all, Amber. You are loved, pure and simple. And you will be on the giving end again soon enough. For now, receive – let it wash over you like baptismal waters and be refreshed. Love to you.
Amber, I love your heart and the faith family surrounding you and creativity in giving and gathering, and this, as Diana says, pure and simple love. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the story of the hijacked hat. Thank you, friend.
Annie Barnett says
Amber, this is grace to me tonight – you slipped in a line that sums up these last few years, something that’s been simmering deep but left unspoken: “Suffering, in all its varying degrees, seems to work that way, intertwining wholeness with brokenness.” So grateful for you and your community living this out, messy and hopeful and all. Thank you.
What a moving story, thanks for sharing. i absolutley love… the hat party idea, what a beautiful tradition to have started and in year 2 such a memorable beginning. God bless you xx
Shannon @nwaMotherlode says
This one gave me the God goose-bumps. Love to you, Amber.
Bethany Bassett says
This post grabbed tears straight out of my eyes for the beauty. The absurd love you wrote about makes me achingly glad to be part of the Church.
Beth Williams says
I, too, am a giver and love praying for and helping others. Being on the other end is another story. Back in September my aging dad got a skin cancer diagnosis, had a bout of depression, stomach issues, etc. He stopped coming to church for a while as he was not feeling well. He proclaimed he couldn’t do life alone anymore and needed some place to go. I was growing weary of trying to visit him and take care of him and his needs.
I put myself out and asked the church for prayers. He was put on the church prayer list. Each week people would ask about him. The pastor and his wife even drove 40 miles round trip to see him, cards were sent and 1 person tried to call him. Through it all God was there and he healed my dad. Last Sunday for the first time in over 2 months he came back to church. He felt he had to as so many were caring for him. People came up to him and hugged him and one told him he loved him. It made me feel proud to be a part of such a wonderful, caring group of Christians.
God bless! Praying for Titus!
Rebekah Lyon says
Just beautiful…just Jesus. Thank you for these words. Love and prayers to you and your family…and sweet Titus.
Beautiful words Amber! How blessed you are to have your ‘Jesus family’. Thank you for your sharing… Jesus is speaking to me through your words about receiving.
Terri Jennings says
I’m praying for Titus and you and your family.