Jesus eats at the diner.

We often forget that Christ admonished us to treat the least of our brothers as though they were Jesus himself.  He clearly indicated that He keeps track of the little things like feeding and clothing those in need.

For years I’ve seen evidence of this in my own life, good people going out of their way to do things for the people with not enough.  I work with several groups that work to help in a systematic way.  Often it’s providing a hot meal every two weeks, clothing drives, or perhaps a warm bed in the mission when the winter sets in around here.

But this story needs to be told, for I firmly believe Jesus was there that morning. Some might consider it blasphemous, but I think Jesus wears a $2000.00 suit. And He eats at Mickey’s Diner.

Does not Christ manifest Himself in us if we are Christians?  Do we not become a part of Him if we follow His edicts and do as He showed us?  Are we not “The Body of Christ” when the church reaches out?  I think so.

And this story puts me in the mind that He reached out that morning a month ago.  I have this story from one of the long-time employees there.  One of my regular breakfast mates, who shall be called “Tim” for purposes of anonymity, is not someone you’d ever see on Meet The Press.  He’s disheveled, dirty, ungroomed, inarticulate, and quite possibly a little off in some ways.  But he’s a cordial person to be around, he’s apparently harmless, and he’s always polite.

On that morning, Tim was at the counter and the only seat open was right next to him.  A man, young, expensively dressed and evidently well to do came in and looked for a seat.  He was standing there when the waitress pointed at the seat next to Tim and said that’s your only option.  He plopped down, gave Tim a funny look and then ordered his breakfast.  He was evidently paying attention to Tim talking quietly to himself and nursing a cup of coffee.  Tim went out the door after a bit and the man asked the waitress about him.

After being told that he was a regular who came in to get warm when the shelter kicked everyone out in the morning, the man in the $2000 suit asked a bunch of questions about the street people in the area.  The waitress filled him in on the details and the man pondered it for a few minutes.

Before he left, he paid his tab and handed a $100 bill to the waitress. “Please feed Tim when he’s here and hungry.  I’m in here often enough that when that runs out you can just let me know.  But take care of him.”

That’s all he said.  He didn’t contact his P.R. firm.  He didn’t call the newspaper.  He didn’t announce to the diner what he’d done.  He just pulled out the cash and put it down for a brother in hard times. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus wants us to do?  I think it is precisely what the Bible tells us to do.

I’d like to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and do something like that this week.  Hopefully today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Don’t give the money directly to the street person, too much danger there. You could be robbed, they could be robbed, it could be gone in an hour in a trip to the liquor store.  But if you really want to help, make sure that you pony up for the mission drive, buy a meal for one of them that’s at the counter next to you, cover their coffee at the convenience store, do something that directly reflects your love of Jesus and your fellow man.

And remember that Jesus sometimes wears a pinstripe suit and eats at the diner.

Updated 12-11-2011 -So, Santa blogs, but does he do packet data?

 Ever wonder what Santa’s up to before Christmas?  Follow this link and you will see a video that was on the local news tonight.  It was a great day with some new friends!

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/12/08/santa-chats-with-childrens-hospital-patients-via-skype/

Now, if you’d like to read about it in the Star Tribune, here’s the link to that story (really good story about those of us that work with special needs kids)

http://www.startribune.com/local/135384293.html

I was truly blessed to spend the day with the good people at Children’s Hospital and my new friends from Cisco.  The technology was very cool, and since my alter ego is as a geek for Centurylink it was good fun to actually understand what was going on behind the scenes.

I am always humbled when working with kids in the hospital.  They cheer me up every time with their smiles. None of us had much hair, but it just means our brains are so awesome that the fuzz on top cooks off!

Thank you to everyone involved.  It was a great day.

Cisco gave me a chance to visit from the North Pole via their equipment.

Santa conducts a visit via video conference. (Photo credit Startribune.com)

 

Sometimes it’s tough to be Santa.

Santa & Max discuss string theory. Or, why the elves are shorter than Santa says they are.

 

Things are truly underway now for the season.  8 events this past weekend. More than I care to count for the next week.

But the blessing from it is that I get to meet and pray over lots of people.  I get to hear stories, see the look of wonder in the eyes and gain humility.  There is no way that I can ever measure up to the looks those little ones give me sometimes.  They adore me. Well, not me, but Santa.  I am him from the moment The Red Suit goes on until I’ve shampooed the beard at the end of the day. And during that day I had best keep up the presence that is Santa for all who come to see me.

Sometimes it’s easy.  You get gurgling babies that want nothing at all and sleep for most of the picture. Sometimes it’s gorgeous moms that want to sit on Santa’s knee.  Sometimes it’s dad, and he wants a gag photo with Santa. Most of the time it’s little ones with a list, a dream and a belief that I will talk to Rudolph and the elves and get their toy squared away without a hitch.

And, other times, like this past weekend, there are difficult children.  Children with emotional problems who are so angry or maladjusted that they want to tear out Santa’s beard, punch him in the … yeah, there, or tear his clothing.  Angry for a valid reason or none at all, they are God’s children as well and I try to treat them that way.  Doesn’t mean that I don’t block the blows or remove the clenched fist from my beard, but I try to do it gently.

Still other times it’s a child with a special need. I’ll call her Shelly.  Shelly has been coming to an event I’ve done for many years.  I first remember being aware of her about three or four years ago when I glimpsed her hiding from me behind the other children. 

She’s much bigger now, but when I first saw her she was fairly small in stature.  She was terrified of eye contact and sought to steal a glimpse of me when I wasn’t looking.  She didn’t want her picture with Santa, she didn’t want the candy cane I offered, but she sat in rapt attention while I read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to the kids.

Afterward her father told me that she was a special kid and didn’t socialize well with the others, but she seemed to like me.  (If only I’d had that effect on women in college!)

The next year she sat a little closer to the front and made occasional eye contact with me but still at a distance.  I sat quietly in my chair and just spoke in soft tones to her, trying not to spook her any worse than she was already.

This year she actually ventured up to take a picture near me.  Not on my knee, not even standing right next to me but a few feet away.  Close enough to get a picture with Santa but not have to touch him.  I thought this was a huge step forward for her and was tickled that she came forward. She made eye contact more than ever before and actually gave me some really nice smiles.

After the event, my last of the evening, I lingered while the minivan parade assembled in the parking lot and the staff cleaned up the party area.  Shelly’s mom was helping with the clean up, and Shelly stood about 10 feet away.  I gave her a smile and talked to her about not much of anything, just an attempt to break through that silence that enveloped her.  She’d never spoken a word to me, and she looked just like the deer do when they wander into my neighborhood… like they will bolt at any second and run out on the freeway to get away.

And then, a miracle happened.  She was sitting on a low ledge that ran along the South wall of the room.  And from her seat she patted the area next to her, indicating that I should come and sit next to her.  I hadn’t been that touched by an invitation in many years. That Shelly, a girl who was in mortal fear of most things in life, who never spoke a word, who never took a picture on my knee, and who was seemingly locked in her own world would reach out to this giant man in a red suit with a gesture of friendship was amazing to me.  I quietly got out of my chair and walked over to sit next to her.  She smiled at me and I offered my hand to hold.  That scared her, but instead of running away, she just moved over six inches and stopped.  And the two of us just sat there, in our own world for the next five minutes. We traded nothing but smiles and thoughts, but it was enough. It was magical.

I was honored that she’d let me into that world.  And I hope that she felt the love I have for children come through that wall she’s got around her.  I think she did.  She left after I did that night, but when I said good night to everyone she was smiling.  And I was too.

Sometimes God gives us a simple smile as the greatest miracle in our lives for that week, or month.  This smile was my miracle for 2011.  Merry Christmas, Shelly.  Santa and God both love you and pray for you.  See you in 2012.

If you see a mob of zombies howling for my blood outside my cube …

They might not be zombies but coworkers.  My associate and I have a new task we’re doing in the middle of the night.  It breaks things.  Lots of things.  This makes the day crew very unhappy.  We break them and then go home before the damage reports come in to the office.  The day crew then has to fix all the stuff we broke the night before.  I understand that they were all walking around mumbling our names yesterday.  Kind of reminds me of “The Walking Dead” in more than a few ways.  Traditional zombie resolution methodology is, however, not approved by the H.R. department.  Actually, it’s specifically prohibited.

I won’t say what the project is, but it’s step one in a big upgrade.  We are essentially bouncing things off the floor to see what shatters and what really bounces back on to the shelf without falling apart.  So, breaking things is more-or-less the actual goal.  It’s like pre-breaking them before we really break them in a few months.

Make no sense?  Then you clearly don’t work with computers or telecommunications equipment.  But I’m betting that you do work with at least a few zombies.