Cadet Devin Reid | Winter Assignment | Charottetown Community Church, PE
While aboard my flight to Prince Edward Island for winter assignment I couldn’t help but imagine the scenic wonders of green fields and red soil which I hadn’t laid eyes on since I was a little boy. Coming in wintertime, I knew I was destined only to see the island cloaked in winter white, but underneath, asleep for a time, were those colours which are not only iconic of that lovely province but of Christmas. As the flight grew closer I wondered what was in store during my stay as I shared time with the nationally acclaimed good-natured Islanders and engaged in the Christmas ministry that was already well underway at The Salvation Army’s Charlottetown Community Church. With my time there now over, I’d like to share with you bit about that experience.
After trudging a short distance through the snow to the front door of the Charlottetown Community Church, I looked over and saw a large stainless steel cross attached to the building – a great welcome and reminder to me as I entered that I was in a place which was adorned by the symbol that speaks the name of Jesus and the message of God’s love; indeed, the summary of the message of Christmastime. I met the Corps Officers, Captains Jamie and Elaine Locke, who were busy with all the activities on the agenda for the day, and throughout the day I met staff and volunteers who were hard at work. Food was piled high, people were coming in registering for Christmas food and toy assistance, monetary and product donations were being made in-house and being picked up, and telephones calls from people seeking help were being answered. These activities and much more had been on the go prior to my arrival, and things were only getting busier as things ramped up heading towards the hamper distribution days scheduled for the following week.
Throughout the coming days I had the privilege of spending time with the Corps Officers, staff, and volunteers, getting to know them and learning about the services provided and how they went about their respective work so as to accomplish the great tasks at hand. But amid all this I was given a glimpse into their hearts. Time and energy were being given not because they had to, but because they wanted to. Their motivation was love for others, and I knew so not only from what I gleaned in conversation with them, but from what I saw. I saw joy on their faces as they guided moms and dads through a room to choose toys for their children, and then the parents expressing how happy their children would be with their gifts on Christmas morning. I saw compassion in their eyes as they heard stories of people’s realities: poverty, loss of job, or the death of a loved one within recent months and the financial strain and heartache that comes with that at Christmas time. After some wonderful carol singing I saw heartfelt warmth as sunshine bags were handed out to seniors along with a handshake and “Merry Christmas, may God bless you.” I watched as the Corps Officers showed people into their offices, stepping aside from all the other work that had to be done for the purpose of listening to someone’s story and their needs, offering grace and love in response, and showing the singularity of attention that our Heavenly father affords us. What a blessing it was for me to witness these things, and then amongst them to pray for and watch for opportunities in which I may extend the love of Christ alongside them.
All in all, if there is one hallmark of my experience during my winter assignment it is simply this: Christmas joy. Though there were little things which arose which could have caused frustration or worse during the Christmas assistance season, they had no significant impact. For all involved, despite the minor frustrations the joy of Christmas – the Joy of the Lord – prevailed. In this there is a great reminder for us, for the occasion of Jesus’ birth is cause for great joy, and we are to live within the light of that joy and shine outwards in extending the message of joy that comes through God’s gift of salvation that comes through Christ Jesus, Immanuel – “God with us.” So, throughout the remainder of the Christmas season and into the New Year, may we, through word and deed, express the message of the heavenly hosts who appeared to the shepherds so long ago:
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth npeace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:10-14, NKJV)
n Is. 57:19; [Rom. 5:1]; Eph. 2:17; [Col. 1:20]