A WHITE CHRISTMAS – JUST LIKE THE ONE WE USED TO KNOW…REALLY?
Walk for a moment through a little bit of history we have been able to dig up. It starts with an old photograph related to our church and a bit of mystery in terms of when and where it was taken. Ultimately that mystery was solved by discovering very faint writing on the back that revealed “Christmas 1922 Asheville NC Troop #7 1st Baptist Daniel Boone Council Boy Scouts”.
For our area and the nation, 1922 was a pretty good year and confidence was on the rise. By this time, our congregation had been worshiping in this gothic style building at the corner of College and Spruce Streets for about 30 years. Buoyed by the feeling of the times, 5 years later, the FBCA congregation of that time marched from that church to the magnificent new one in which we all now thankfully gather to worship some 93 year later.
Let’s jump ahead to Christmas 1938. Our nation is now deep in the Great Depression. The message in a FBCA newsletter that Christmas was titled as “Needed for Christmas Baskets”. Requested items were: Coffee, Carnation Milk, Oat Meal, Peas, Pork & Beans, Corn, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Sugar, Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Peaches, Irish Potatoes, Flour & Meal, Dried Beans and Bacon, Raisins & Grits, and Money “for fruits, etc., Santa Claus”.
Fast forward just a couple of years to Christmas 1940. Folks were still working through very tough times. No one could imagine how significantly things were going to change in less than 12 months. In the newsletter this Christmas, the appeal for food gifts was labeled as “White Christmas”. The requested food items were the same. One difference was an emphasis on “canned or dried” which begs the question of why the need for the “clarification”.
Now let’s jump ahead nine years to Christmas 1949. The war was over and many things were much, much brighter. Still, FBCA was still collecting, giving and delivering White Christmas. Food items were the same except juices and soup were now added to the list.
So, 71 years later, what has changed?
Our nation is immersed in a global pandemic.
We last worshipped in our sanctuary some 10 months ago.
Yet, the church is vibrant and committed as ever to those in need.
Members drove thru on November 29 to share food out of gracious hearts.
Across the weeks that followed, volunteers like those in seasons past packed bags filled with ham and sweet potatoes, oranges and rolls, all the trimmings for a few good meals.
100 Neighbors at Vanderbilt and Battery Park received bags with First Baptist Church of Asheville emblazoned on the side, a reminder that they have good neighbors just down the street.
While the list of items we collect might have changed, the Spirit nudging the people at 5 Oak Street remains the same. The need of our neighbors for assistance – food or otherwise – has not changed. The love for our FBCA neighbors, whether we know them or not – has not changed nor has the dedication of FBCA volunteers to help. The example and charge given by Jesus to feed and nurture as best we can and always try to do more – not just in earthy needs but in spiritual as well – has not changed.
Thanks be to God for another season of giving to friends, of wrapping our arms around Asheville and Christmas and throughout the year.
A rewrite of an article first published by Mark Green in 2014.
Credits: Elaine Matheson, Lynn Roberts, Janet Ellington, Debbie Miller and Larry Rhodes