Faith, prayers and Christmas in brown bag

MIchigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh recently made headlines by saying he would give his bonus to sports department employees who have suffered pay cuts linked to Covid-19. Michigan defeated Ohio State on Nov. 27 to secure the Big Ten East Division crown.

A week later, Michigan defeats Iowa for the Big Ten Championship. Total bonus so far? $ 1.5 million goes to the hundreds of employees “who have stayed while receiving a voluntary or mandatory pay cut over the past eighteen months,” Harbaugh explained.

Most of us don’t have an extra million to split up, but maybe we can find a way to make Christmas 2021 unforgettable for someone.

Pastor Joe McKeever once asked his class of newlyweds he had taught to share a favorite family Christmas story and a young woman spoke of “The Brown Bag Christmas.”

In the early 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, the Canady family, mom, dad and seven children, were simply facing difficult times. Christmas would be meager that year. Mom told the children to go get a Christmas tree and decorate it. They found a dead branch, placed it in a bucket of sand, and put on some colored paper decorations. Little Judy, almost four years old, has remembered this tree all her life.

The excited Canadian children have been pestering mom and dad about gifts that might appear under their “tree”. Dad pointed out that the pantry was empty, that they were barely making it out, and the hardships of this year had left no money for gifts.

However, the mother said, “Children, say your prayers. Ask God to send us what he wants us to have. Pray, children.

The father was worried that Mom would prepare them for the disappointment, but they prayed anyway. On Christmas Eve, the children looked out the windows, anticipating a Christmas miracle, somehow hoping that someone would remember them.

“Turn off the lamp and go to bed,” Dad said. ” No one’s coming. No one even knows we’re here.

The children went to bed, pulled the covers up, but were too excited to sleep. Wasn’t it Christmas? Didn’t they ask God to send gifts? Didn’t Mom teach that God answers prayers?

They finally settled in, but later one of the children spotted lighthouses in the distance. Everyone got up and ran to the window. The commotion woke up mom and dad.

“Don’t get upset, kids,” Dad said, “it’s just a car on the highway. “

The children watched as the car continued to come, eventually turning into their backyard. Dad lit a lamp. A car door slammed and a voice shouted, “Could someone help me unload these bags?” The children rushed to the door to help, except for little Judy, who stayed with Mum.

What happened? How did God come? He used a deacon from the town church who fell in bed that Christmas Eve, lay there, twisting and turning as the Canady family came to his mind and couldn’t seem to fall asleep.

Later he said, “I didn’t know what kind of shape you were in, but I knew you had all these kids. He got up, dressed and walked around town, waking people up from their slumber to ask for a contribution for the Canady family. He filled his car with bags of groceries, canned goods, toys and clothes. Little Judy had a rag doll that has been her favorite for years.

The following Sunday, Ms. Canady stood at church and shared what the members and this particular deacon had done for her family. She was deeply grateful and touched. There was not a dry eye in the place.

Years later, the oldest daughter Eva said: “We were so delighted with all the wonderful things in the bags that we lost sight of the most special gift for a while. The best present Christmas was not in the brown bags. It was my mother’s faith when she taught her children to bring their needs to Jesus and trust Him to meet them. And the love of a daddy who only wanted to protect his children from pain and disappointment.

At Christmas we celebrate devoted mothers, caring fathers and childlike faith. We give thanks for those who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and who follow his inspiration to bless others. Most importantly, we celebrate Jesus.

When the bride finished telling her story, she added, “Little Judy is my grandmother.”

How can you bless someone this Christmas?

[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, 352 McDonough Road, Fayetteville, Georgia. Join them this Sunday for worship at 10 a.m. and Bible study at 11:10. Visit for online viewing options. Visit to see other Chancey columns.]

Comments are closed.