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Whether out of genuine desire to provide a happy holiday for the marginalized or out of sheer guilt, Christmas is the time we ramp up our acts of service. Perhaps it’s just a necessary response to the onslaught of opportunities we’re exposed to this time of year.
No matter the reason, we’re significantly more likely to give of our time and our resources during the Christmas season and a great many organizations and people around reap the benefits. Donations increase, meals are served to the homeless, coats are gathered for kids, and gifts are purchased for the less fortunate. It’s the time of year that people show their capacity to truly love and serve the marginalized in our city.
But even our most noble holiday efforts and intentions aren’t enough. Renewal and restoration don’t happen in one month. It happens when the people of God offer a year-round, full-life response to the grace that’s been freely given to us. We’ve seen this since the earliest days of the church.
…and with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold…(Acts 4:33-34 ESV)
Here’s four ways your Christmas service can have an impact now, and all year long:
Providing a Christmas for foster care children and families
There are thousands of children in foster care as well as thousands of foster families in the United States. Imagine a day when there is not a line of children in our city waiting for someone to adopt them, but rather a line of families, responding to God’s call to care for the orphan, waiting for another child who needs a permanent home.
This season is an ideal time to provide Christmas gifts for foster children, bless the families who are caring for foster children, and even begin your own journey to fostering and adoption.
Most foster care placement agencies provide broad range of ways to get involved like providing Christmas gifts for foster children, volunteering at a Christmas party for foster families, providing professional services and even beginning the certification process to be a CASA or a foster parent yourself.
Serve internationals this Christmas
Though many international and refugee families aren’t celebrating the Christmas season, it’s still a perfect season to engage and serve families who are transitioning to life in the United States.
Programs that work with internationals provide regular chances to serve families making the that transition. Family “co-sponsors” engage in and improves the quality of a refugee’s resettlement by providing extra assistance, time, advice, and material goods vital to fulfilling the needs of newly arrived refugees. They are integral in helping them to become self-sufficient.
Another option is simply befriending and loving international families in your neighborhood or apartment complex. Start a new relationship by inviting them to eat a Christmas dinner with you family.
Invite your neighbors into your home
Don’t just limit the invitations to international families!
Consider your neighborhood or apartment complex. There may be young families who are far from home this Christmas, single professionals forced to work through holidays, or a widow or widower facing Christmas alone.
Invite these people into your family this Christmas. Buy them a gift or have them over for dinner. When there are people in our lives who don’t have family close at Christmas, my wife is the queen of inviting them to our family gatherings.
Serving your city this Christmas doesn’t require finding the right organization, getting trained, and logging volunteer hours. You can make a powerful impact by caring for those who are literally in your own backyard.
Support existing restoration efforts by giving
There are a multitude of organizations that are looking for clothing donations, food donations and financial gifts.
Most organizations use the last months of the year to ramp up fundraising efforts so if time is limited this Christmas season, consider how you can support restoration efforts with a financial gift. Consider cleaning out your closet this Christmas and giving some of your best things to those in need or make a year-end gift to a program intent on developing relationships and making disciples among the poor and marginalized.
It’s the grace of God given to us that allows us to joyfully and selflessly provide our time and our resources. If we use the Christmas season to satisfy only our own desires to serve we’re missing the mark for what it means to love and serve our city biblically. We can’t use the Christmas season to satisfy our own desires. We must use this Christmas season to get into the fight for restoration in our cities.
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