“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28, ESV)
Christmas time. A time of celebration of Christ the newborn King. A joyous time of year for many, but also a very difficult time of year for many. Whether emotional, physical or spiritual, we will always know someone who struggles to keep going. And it’s our responsibility and great privilege to meet their needs.
While we should always be on the lookout for those who are in need, being ready and willing to help and ease the burden, Christmas is a fantastic time of year to really get into it. And it’s the perfect opportunity to involve your family, as you take time off for the holidays.
Over the last couple of years, we have relaxed our school schedule during the month of December. Each year before that Christmas approached, I felt stressed out as there were so many projects and things we wanted to be involved in, but just weren’t able to for lack of time. When we planned for a release of our expectations for school during the month of Advent, we were able to accomplish so much in the way of blessing and serving others.
If you homeschool, I would encourage you to examine your schedule throughout the year, and work in a way to have a few weeks off during December (including BEFORE Christmas) to serve. That is part of the beauty of homeschooling now, isn’t it? To have the flexibility to set our own schedules, and most importantly, to be involved in the lives of others, as a family.
If you are not homeschooling, I would encourage you to find ways as a family that you can serve just over the time your kids may have off school. But this isn’t just about being all rosy and glowy servants during Christmas. This is about desiring and exhibiting a heart for serving ALL year round. Christmas is a fantastic time to start though!
As a family, we have come up with a list of ways we can be serving and caring for others on a regular basis, but also specific projects to tackle during Christmas. This list is certainly far from finished, but I hope it sparks some ideas for your own family and enables you to find a starting point of serving.
Visit a nursing home or hospital ward.
This has to be one of my FAVOURITE ideas of all time. We did it growing up as a homeschool group, and now my kids are doing it with our co-op group. They work hard to put on a program for the seniors, and everyone loves every minute of it! After we socialize with some homemade goodies and put together gingerbread houses. Contact a seniors/nursing or retirement home in your area and ask about coming in, as individuals or a group, to bring a light.
The same could be done at a hospital ward, though you may be limited to coming and singing songs throughout, delivering goodies to rooms, and visiting for a few moments. Though it may be uncomfortable and it will definitely be stretching, all these people are probably not thrilled to be in a hospital for Christmas, so think of how much of a blessing it would be to them.
Last year we started doing Random Acts of Christmas Kindness – or RACK. I originally got the idea from Tracie Stier in her post here. We’ve come up with a list of ideas we will keep adding to, but for each one we leave behind a candy cane with this message on it:
Our ideas so far include:
- shovel driveways
- pay for the person behind in the drive thru
- make cookies for firemen and library workers
- bring hot coffee / chocolate to construction workers
- make someone a meal
- make ornaments and hand them out to people
- give goody bags to grocery store cashiers
- visit neighbours with goodies
Meet a family’s needs.
We often have no idea what other people are going through. That’s why I love small groups so much, because it helps you to stay connected with people you may not normally “hang out” with, while building each other up in your walk with Christ. But most importantly, it makes a way for you to meet the needs of others. Though you may not know what everyone’s needs are, someone knows! And the question begs to be asked, especially at Christmas when the money gets tighter.
Ask your small group leaders or elders if there are any families that have needs to be met. Whether it be financial or physical, do your utmost to fulfill them. Make some meals, offer transportation, buy gifts or Christmas dinner, be there to comfort them or invite them to your home if they have gone through the loss of a loved one. Often a few months after, they fall to the wayside, but now especially need to be surrounded by love and encouragement. Offer babysitting to parents (especially single parents!), so they can get shopping done or just have some time to breathe and relax.
Another way that you can meet a family’s needs is through organizations like Gospel for Asia. I’m talking about buying cows, bicycles, sewing machines and wells. Each year we choose gifts from the Gospel for Asia Christmas catalogue to help a family in need. This is something the kids look forward to so much, and we have been so blessed to see the sacrificial way they give. What an amazing opportunity to change the entire livelihood of a whole family in need!
Contribute to your local food bank.
Our church organizes a food drive donation each year, and the kids REALLY get behind this. Though surprisingly, this year they said “There aren’t any poor people in our town.” And they’re sort of right, to the naked eye, you can’t SEE those who are suffering in our town. But when you go to the food bank and hear about the people who use it, you realize things aren’t always as they seem. So go, bring some goodies, ask some questions, go for a tour, and help your children to see that things aren’t always as they seem, and we often need to look past appearances to see the hurt.
Give of your time.
There are SO many opportunity and areas to volunteer in, it makes me giddy! Unfortunately in our area, a lot of them you have to be over 18 for. So I’m waiting excitedly until that day! (Only 9 years to go :D) Food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, crisis centers, homes for women and children, churches, Operation Christmas Child packaging facilities – if you Google it, you will find it.
Host a shoe-cutting party.
This is a new idea we’ve had this year, and are so excited to be involved in! Many kids in Africa have sores and infection on their feet because of sand fleas that burrow in and lay eggs. All because they have no shoes! Sole Hope came up with a way to help, and it involves taking your old jeans and cutting them into shoes. It’s a really easy way to give back ANY time of the year, not just at Christmas. The kids are making cards and handing out letters to their friends asking for their old jeans to make new shoes.
In reality, any of these ideas are things you can do year-round. But especially at Christmas, when the message of Christ coming to serve and to save is so prevalent – what better way can you be like Christ than to serve others in His Name?
What fun ways of serving do you take on during the month of Christmas to serve and bless others?