The Pastor's Corner
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
Ed Butchart tells of his experiences as a professional Santa Claus in the book The Red Suit Diaries; the following is one of them.
I was talking to a boy of six when I noticed her in the line. She was up next and so excited she could hardly contain herself. She skipped from one foot to the other and wrung her hands as fast as she could. The smile on her face would have lit up downtown. The thing that was different about her was that she was about thirty-five years old.
The boy on my lap appeared to be her brother, so when I finished taking his order, I asked, “Is that your sister?”
“Yeah,” he answered, “but you don’t have to talk to her. She ain’t right in her head, never has been.”
“Well, I will talk to her,” I said. “Santa loves all the kids, no matter how old they are.”
The boy immediately jumped off my lap and yelled to a woman standing nearby, “He wants to talk to Rachel!”
His sis started toward me, but the woman pushed between us.
“You don’t have to mess with her,” the woman yelled. “She’s retarded, ain’t never been right!”
I reached out and took the yelling woman by the arm. I drew her close. “This is your daughter?” I whispered with a nod.
The woman nodded back.
“Yes,” I echoed. “She’s also a child of God, who loves her as much as he does any of his children—and and so does this Santa. So I am as thrilled to talk to her as I am to talk to any of God’s children.”
The woman’s jaw dropped open. Then I turned to Rachel and gestured for her to approach.
Rachel dropped all of her considerable weight on my left leg, and I struggled to make sure she was safely perched. I asked her the usual questions, and when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she gave me the same list virtually ever five-year-old girl had given that day: “A Barbie doll, a Barbie house, some Barbie clothes and some surprises.”
I listened intently to her words, but it was Rachel’s soul that was speaking loudest at that moment. She may have been mentally impaired but her handicap was the family into which she had been born.
When she finished her list, I gave her a gentle hug and told her that God loved her and so did Santa Claus. I told her to be a good girl, and she nodded vigorously. Then I said, “Promise?”
The smile on her face lit the room. “I promise!” she announced so fervently, and I knew.
I had been entertaining an angel unawares.