I spent eight hours in Tesco on Saturday. It wouldn’t have been my choice of venue for the weekend, but it turned out to be pretty fun. I spent the day standing in the entrance, handing out shopping lists to people rushing in to do their shopping – all in aid of our local foodbank.
At one point a group of young people came in, probably late teens. Headphones stuck in their ears, hoods pulled up, not exactly the friendliest bunch.
And yes, of course, I totally judged them. I almost didn’t even hand them a shopping list, let alone try to engage them in conversation.
But something caught me and I found myself smiling, handing them the list and briefly explaining the foodbank cause.
The response? A grunt.
Well, what did I expect? A massive hug and congratulations for giving up your time on a Saturday to help people in need?
I promptly forgot about them and moved onto the next, well-dressed couple, who politely thanked me and said they’d see what they could buy.
Later, I’m standing by the trolley, helping shoppers load it with gifts and a guy comes up, puts out his arm and hands me a bag. It’s one of the guys from earlier. There’s no smile, just a nod.
Just behind him, his friend, equally as gruff, hands me another bag. They hadn’t just bought one item; between the group they’d bought loads.
I was amazed, impressed and mad at myself for judging so easily. Who was I to think that these young guys wouldn’t care about people in their local community who have no food this Christmas?
And it got me thinking. The whole aim of our team, Global Volunteering, is to give people a chance to see poverty as people and not just a statistic. We send people overseas so that they’ll come back with a new awareness that starts to shape their everyday decisions. Our motto is, ‘Changed people, change the world.’
Yet, this group of guys, who didn’t seem particularly empathetic were responding to a message of injustice and being generous with their cash. They weren’t what I expected and yet they totally blew me away with their generosity.
And I guess that’s the message of Christmas too. Jesus was not what people expected in any shape or form and yet he has spent the last 2,000 or so years blowing people away with his amazing love, compassion and generosity.
So, my message this Christmas? Let’s make a point of being open to having our opinions blown away by a God who loves to surprise and wow us.