It all started about four years ago. My wife Dawn and I had an idea — to prepare our annual family Christmas dinner at our church, Asbury United Methodist Church in Charles Town. We thought we would invite other church members who would be alone over the holidays to join us. We knew that there were a few older members of our congregation who did not have anyone to celebrate Christmas with and thought this would be a great way to share the true meaning of Christmas with our church family and with our daughter Mary, who was 12 at the time.
With that plan in mind, the following Sunday we made an announcement prior to our worship service. We invited our church family to join us as we prepare and host a Christmas meal. Almost immediately the idea began to snowball and it soon became what is now known as, “The Asbury Free Community Christmas Dinner.”
Dozens upon dozens of people began asking if they could volunteer to help us. Then donations of food and money began to come in. Within a couple hours of our church service, I knew we had something much larger than just a meal for Asbury; we were cooking up something that we could invite everyone in our entire community to!
As we were organizing the dinner, we were blessed to have so many members of Asbury and from the local community, who wished to volunteer to help set up, cook, clean and serve. When we were figuring out how to get Christmas meals to our Asbury homebound members, we were once again blessed when Meals On Wheels of Jefferson County volunteered to organize the distribution of meals to both our homebound members and to its clients.
Finally, the big day arrived and I saw so many volunteers turn out on Christmas Day to make this dinner a huge success. During the dinner, I saw many examples of devotion and selflessness. We had an entire family volunteer to work in the kitchen and prepare food. We had kids of all ages assisting guests with their trays and drinks. Then we had the ladies and gentlemen who helped sweep the floors, take out the trash, bus the tables, do the dishes and many other chores. When the dinner was over, we found that we had served over 250 meals! It was clear that each one of our volunteers helped bring the Love of Christ to all who had joined us.
As I reflect on the past three Christmas dinners that Asbury has organized for the community, I am filled with pride. So many Asbury family members came together to ensure everyone in the Jefferson County community could have a warm, hearty meal on Christmas Day. I am also proud that we all shared friendship, fellowship, and faith on Christmas together.
And as for me, I think the best part of the whole Community Christmas dinner experience is seeing our young children learning one of the greatest teachings of Christ: that true greatness comes through serving others (Mark 9:35-37).
I continue to be amazed at the love, generosity and outpouring of support we receive to make this dinner a success. I look forward to once again serving our community this year as Asbury hosts the Fourth Annual Free Community Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day from noon-2:30 p.m.
Merry Christmas to all my Jefferson County friends and neighbors!
— Bill Ball is a certified lay minister at Asbury
United Methodist Church in Charles Town