'Tis the time of year for my annual Stephen Ministry Christmas ornaments. For those who don't know, our Stephen Ministry group gives a brief presentation during a Sunday in Advent to remind the congregation that not everyone is happy during the holidays. In fact, the holidays can be heartbreaking for those who are spending their first Christmas after the divorce without their children or after the death without their loved one or after the job loss or after the diagnosis.
Our Stephen Ministers remind people to be sensitive to those who are suffering, to invite them out for coffee...and to bring along their listening ears. Often, people who are hurting just need someone who will listen and sit with them in their pain, someone who won't try to jolly the pain away or pretend that it doesn't exist. And perhaps, if they think it's appropriate, they might recommend the hurting person get a Stephen Minister.
Stephen Ministers are trained to walk beside those who are hurting for as long as necessary, meeting once a week for an hour to listen, encourage, and pray with/for their care receiver in a relationship based on sharing Christ's healing love in a hurting world. I've been a Stephen Minister for almost seven years and a Stephen Leader for more than two of those years. It's by and far the most rewarding volunteer work I've done, and it's deepened my own faith in beautiful and unexpected ways.
As a tangible reminder of hurting people's unjolly Christmas, we hand out paper ornaments. We suggest that people take an extra if they know someone outside our congregation who might need a little comfort. I design the ornaments every year and write the speech delivered at each of our church's three services.
This year's ornaments are in the works. Y'all know how I feel about mass production, and making 175 of these is tedious...but a blessing, too. Fortunately, one of our Stephen Ministers has offered to help the past two years (not many crafty souls in our group, sadly!), so Lois will attach the ribbons and adhere the Bible verse stickers onto the backs. Bless her, she's as OCD as I am! Once the ornaments are finished, I'll post a picture of them, but for now, note how I put my fancy Gingher scissors to good use cutting many spools of ribbon.
By the way, these scissors will never cut paper.
My momma raised me right.
Mercy, Grace, Peace, and Love to each one of you.