Marc’s Annual Advent Blog

Advent is almost upon us.  And it seems like every year I end up writing the same type of article.  So I have been racking my brain trying to figure out something different to write.  Then I got inspired by a couple of my friends on Facebook and wound up back where I always do this time of year.

My inspirations were my friend Paul and my friend Mollie.  They are trying to bless others and share God’s love in real, tangible and creative ways this Advent season.  And they are inviting others to do so as well. Paul has started a Facebook group/event where he is challenging folks to lift up a significant person every day by really blessing them!  This would be in direct contrast to a culture that looks to tear down ,especially on social media and I like that. Mollie has decided to try and volunteer for a different community group or charitable cause every day until Christmas and I am sure she wants to see others volunteer as well.

I like these types of things because we run the risk of paying a lot of lip service to good things at Christmas while not actually doing them.  Christmas is a time of the year when we make a lot of noise about the “real meaning” of the season. We talk about the importance and significance of Christ stepping out of heaven and entering our world.  We talk about the amazing love this represents for all people. We pray for a world that desperately needs to experience this love in real and tangible ways. And then we cocoon ourselves away with our inner circles after wearing ourselves out shopping and attending events.

I believe we can do better.  And so I want to join with my friends Paul and Mollie and challenge us to consider ways for us to do more than pay lip service to God’s amazing love for all people this advent season.  Here are a few ideas to get you started, but I am sure as you think and pray, you and your family/small group/whoever will do better.

Ways to show God’s amazing love this advent season starter kit of ideas:

  1. Thank people.  Follow Paul’s prompting and spend some time thanking people for their contribution to your life.  Appreciate them. Facebook, letter, coffee…find a way to bless them.
  2. Volunteer.  Serve at a shelter, ring bells for the Salvation Army, deliver gifts…there are lots of opportunities.  By the way, this can be an amazing way to not only show love but to help your kids realize that Christmas is about more than gifts and attending events.
  3. Give.  If you can’t volunteer at a Salvation Army kettle, put something in it.  Or pray about a family or small group gift that you will do together. My friends over at ICCM would love to see you sponsor a child or give to one of their food, education or clean water funds.  Again, these are wonderful teaching training opportunities.
  4. Open your home.  Look around for that person or that family at church or at work or in the neighborhood that is new to the area or doesn’t seem to have much in the way of community around them.  Include them in your Christmas (actually on Christmas day if you are so bold, but at least around Christmas day). Invite them to your table and help them not be alone this Christmas.
  5. Invite.  Bring folks with you to Christmas Eve service or that special concert you attend.  And then have them over and talk and laugh and share Christmas memories and baking and you might be surprised at where the conversation goes.  You might even get to pray with them before they head home.

You will have way better ideas than these if you think and pray about them.  Imagine what could happen in a Kingdom sense if we didn’t just talk about God’s great love this Christmas, but we actually put it on full display.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Marc McAlister

Director of Leadership Development, the Free Methodist Church in Canada