You may have read that around the country people are paying off layaway Christmas accounts, particularly at K-Marts. This wouldn’t be news, except that the accounts they are paying off are not their own, and usually belong to strangers. Here’s one story from The Daily Mail:
A California man is the latest layaway angel to embrace the spirit of Christmas charity by paying off $16,000 still owed to one shop for presents.
David Wilson, a car dealer from Laguna Beach, contacted the K-Mart in Costa Mesa after seeing a television report about other donors paying off strangers’ outstanding accounts.
He asked the manager to tally up the balances on all the accounts with balances of $100 or less, then wrote a check for $15,919.61 to pay off the whole lot.
The manager of the Costa Mesa K-Mart, Tricia Lawrence, then spent the whole weekend calling customers to let them know that they could come in and collect their presents.
‘The funniest thing is that I haven’t been called a liar so often in my life,’ she told the OC Register…
As well as his $16,000, a further $8,000 has been paid off by strangers – including a seven-year-old girl who paid $47 off accounts from cash she had been saving in her piggy bank.
Kristen Sepulveda owed $251 on a scooter, some Nancy Drew books and a few stocking fillers.
But when she arrived at the K-Mart with her daughter Skylar, 7, they found their balance had been slashed to one penny. Both Mrs. Sepulveda and her daughter wept with joy at the news.
‘To walk into that was probably one of the most… I’m just so… I was just… it was just amazing,’ she told the Register…
This weekend people all over the world will hear the Christmas story once again, a story in which angels (the word means “messengers”) brought “good news of great joy” to a young woman, her betrothed, her cousin’s husband, and some shepherds.
The story of that night became far more than a story. For over 2000 years many have been inspired to live and walk in the light of that story and its subject, Jesus: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” [From John 1]
God’s messengers are everywhere, in everyone who lives the message of the Jesus story, in anyone who finds a way to make light shine in the darkness.
There is indeed something special about this season and how it inspires people to do good, to help others, to care for the poor, the weak and the sick. It is the season when we acknowledge that God draws near to the earth to be with and for all of us. It is the season when perhaps we understand most clearly that we are the new messengers, living God’s story in home and school, in work and world.
Even at the layaway counter in K-Mart.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2011