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Through Hope House's years of sheltering young single mothers, a need to provide extra assistance at holiday times became clear. Hope House's response to that need quickly grew to include area-wide yearly toy collections for needy children at Christmastime.  It soon expanded to neighborhood celebrations for the whole family:

  • Thanksgiving Dinners 
  • Fall Carnivals
  •  Christmas Outreaches
  •  Valentine's Day Celebrations
  •  Independence Day BBQ's
  •  Mother's Day Celebrations
  • Eid Celebrations

Hope for the Holidays

HomeFamily Support CenterHope for the NationsSchedulePresentationsMaterials
Contact InfoAboutHow To HelpL.A. CafeHope for the HolidaysBaby Olympics
Women's HealthHope House Highlights of 2022L/A Area Food PantriesPursuing Peace in Lewiston

Hope for the Holidays 2013  Lewiston Sun Journal.

Monopolizing Jesus
​“Christians have monopolized Jesus,” said Ali Galaydh, former Prime Minister of Somalia, at Denver Colorado’s TRAC5 Leadership Summit we attended. Also speaking was the leading Imam in Denver, Karim AbuZaid, who put it this way, “We love Jesus, what’s not to love?!”

Most religions, in fact, like Jesus. Granted, there are differing views of him, but even with that being the case, it’s hard to find a negative opinion out there about the life he lived. His teaching to love our neighbor is in fact a central theme in almost every faith.

As our town began to be more diverse, we at Hope House initially wondered if our celebrating the birth of Jesus would offend some neighbors with whom we were trying to build friendships. The answer, it seems, was “yes” AND “no”, depending on how we celebrated and how exclusive we made it.

There is a plaque which stands in Germany, where a large Jewish synagogue, destroyed during Hitler’s regime, once stood. The plaque quotes Malachi 2:10, “Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother…?” It stands as a reminder of the horrors that can happen when one faith bullies and excludes another.

We are gradually growing in understanding just what comes across as offensive about Christmas. It’s NOT Jesus. Everybody likes Jesus. It’s NOT that people are opposed to his being born, and honoring that. But the celebration can seem exclusive, as if only for Christians. And even some Christians are uncomfortable with the excesses of celebrating Christmas…the commercialism, the pressure and competitiveness and debt it seems to fuel, the drive to spoil one’s own family, to the exclusion of others. Some Christians are opting out of the traditional celebration of Christmas altogether.

Maybe here is a good time to pose the tritely-used but never-the-less wise question, “what would Jesus do?” We find it hard to imagine that Jesus of Nazareth, the one who the gospels record loved attending weddings and dinner parties and Jewish feasts and celebrations, would not want a party for his birthday. But what would that celebration look like…and just who would be there??

Jesus was continually criticized for who he kept including in things. In fact, he included all the marginalized of his culture, at one time or another…the poor, the handicapped, those of different faiths, and nationalities, those of ill-repute, those of lesser-valued age or gender or class. He told stories to get across that heaven explicitly wants these shunned ones included in grand feasts to come. Jesus even kept commending the exceptional faith, or kind actions, or sincerity of those others looked down on, and discussed how heaven’s honors would be conveyed on choice ones that might surprise us all. So it stands to reason that a celebration of his birthday would definitely NOT be an exclusive event. 

We rather think that if Jesus were in town, he would make it over to our Hope House holiday goings-on. We think he’d like the growing assortment of cultures, the increasingly-tender care shown for struggling neighbors, the attempts to draw in each and every person who presses their nose against the window and wonders if the feast is set for them, too.

The gospels record (in Mark 2 and Luke 5) an amazing story of the lengths to which some friends go, to help a paralyzed man be included in the house where Jesus was interacting with a large crowd of people. These friends went so far as to rip up the roof above where Jesus was, and then lower the man, on his stretcher, down through the hole they’d made. And Jesus liked their faith!

At Hope House, we place a high value on including everybody, especially in social events like holiday celebrations. It just doesn’t fly anymore that only Christians would care to honor the birth of one of the world’s most-loved men. Those who see Jesus as more than that shouldn’t mind that so many others would also want to celebrate his life. He would like that. It would touch his heart! 

At birthday parties, a variety of people come together around a common desire to honor the one having the birthday. They often represent many different ways of relating: acquaintances, close friends, extended family, varied members of the household. All are given a place at the party, all a piece of cake, all a chance to present a gift. The very birth of Jesus drew together a similar diverse-yet-devoted response, from poor Jewish shepherds to educated Gentile kings.

A few years ago, a young Muslim neighbor with whom we had become good friends gave us a note which read: “I had so hoped to have a fun Christmas this year.” She proceeded to reveal her disappointment as she watched her classmates celebrate. Her note gave us much to think about.  

We are realizing that, just perhaps, Christmas should be the MOST inclusive holiday there is. So at Hope House, we celebrate with gusto. We definitely “rip up the roof” in our passion to include. To those who don’t like the dust falling, sorry! But our priority, after all, is not for those already well-seated at the party. It’s for those paralyzed...by poverty or discouragement or rejection or whatever…to finally be included.

And, by the way, we’re always looking for people to help us. But we’ve got to warn you…you may get known as a roof-ripper too! Two things make that risk worth it:
1.The thrill of seeing families that were beaten-down grow strong
2.The smile that purposeful roof-ripping would put on Jesus’ face.

So….are you in?

© 2014 Bruce & Jan Willson

Ripping the Roof
Luke 5:17-26, Mark 2:1-12

We’ve come too far with our friend, to leave…
Can’t believe crowds can be so mean… 
Must be some way Jesus can be seen
He heals everyone, and he’s finally come!

Hey, want to rip up the roof with me?!
You want to rip up the roof, and see
If faith can really open doors all sealed?
Oh, don’t you…want to break through?!

Can we do it? Without tools, can we manage?
(Is there jail time for property damage?)
Steady now, ease him down, not too fast…
The Scribes look mad, but can you see Jesus laugh?!

Brushing the dust off he says, “Now, that’s faith?!”
Hey look, our paralyzed friend’s standing straight!
                                   Faith can really open doors shut tight,                                          
When we fight to include, 
Through a roof, sometimes.

So when a friend gets pushed away,
It’s up to us to make a space…
When there’s a need for Jesus to be seen,
Ripping the roof is love taken to extremes.

Hey, want to rip up the roof with me?!
You want to rip up the roof, and see
If faith can really open doors all sealed?
Oh, don’t you…want to break through   
And see.

(c) 2014 Jan Willson

​Here's some of Hope House's
 Christmas Celebrations
​How Hope for the Holidays Evolved

Hope for the Holidays
CBS News covers Hope for the Holidays 2016
Sun Journal covers it as well
Neighborhood Thanksgiving Potluck 2018