Christmas Act of Service
You may know my mom recently passed away. She was in the nursing home for about 18 months prior. At 93, she decided she simply could no longer navigate that flight of 20 steps. Yes, she faithfully navigated 20 steps up and down until she was 93+ years old. She requested we move her. As much as she wanted to be right next door to my sister and around the block from me, navigating the stairs become a concern for her.
I can only imagine many of you also have elderly family members no longer next door or around the block from you. At this time of year, we want to remember them as the holidays can be even lonelier than other times of the year.
So reach out in love. Whether you are close or have issues with each other, reach out. Even over that long standing crevasse full of hostility and estrangement; you will be glad you did. Whether the person accepts your gesture of hospitality or not is up to them, yet I encourage you to go in love, seeking peace and reconciliation, with an humble heart.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Use your gifts. God gave them to you for a purpose. So unpack them and put them to use – today. We want to be putting our gifts to use all year long, yet life gets busy and there isn’t always time to serve. Now that the Christmas season is among us, this is one of the best times to volunteer your time (and talents too).
Not sure where to find a place to volunteer? Start with resources within your community like a nursing home, the Salvation Army, a homeless shelter, your local jail – inmates could use some love and joy this time of year too, or a soup kitchen. And if you still need some ideas check out the site Christian Volunteering at www.christianvolunteering.org. You never know who you will meet…
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)
You may have a family member in a facility that would love you to bring children to sing Christmas Carols or conduct a fun game. Be creative. Let’s look at three popular volunteer ideas to help get you started:
- Visiting Elderly
One of the loneliest times of year for anyone especially the elderly who have lost a loved one, are house-bound or living in a nursing home, is the holidays. So why not put a smile on their face this year? Head to a local nursing home to visit with the residents.
You could spend a few minutes just chatting with them asking how their day is. Or read a Christmas book or some Bible verses with them. Do you have elderly neighbors? Mix up some extra batches of Christmas cookies or fudge and put together a little goody plate for them. It doesn’t take much to put a smile on their face – they just want some company! (Just like we do!)
- Soup Kitchen
A soup kitchen is a place where the homeless or destitute can go for food. There are millions that go without food each day, a soup kitchen is just the beginning in helping feed the hungry. In larger cities/area they have actual soup kitchens but in smaller areas it may not even be called a soup kitchen.
In many small towns, it’s may be a church basement that is used for a free breakfast or lunch done daily. They are always looking for volunteers and during the holidays, families enjoy doing this. It’s a great learning experience for kids and teens to let them see how some people don’t even have access to the necessities, such as food, every day without something like a soup kitchen. True appreciation begins to take root as they experience others having so little.
- Meals on Wheels
Did you know that millions of seniors rely on Meals on Wheels and tens of thousands more are on waiting lists across the country? (Source: Meals On Wheels America). That’s a pretty staggering statistic that goes to show how important this service is. There are different ways you can help by volunteering with this service – help pack the meals, deliver the meals, and even drive to deliver meals. Want to volunteer for Meals On Wheels? Learn more here www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/americaletsdolunch.
Whenever I was in East Texas, I helped Mom and Dad deliver Meals on Wheels a decade ago. Even though they were in their early 80s, Mom and Dad delivered meals to “the old folks.” Don’t you just love that perspective? I did then and still do. It kept them young well into their 80s.
A few last thoughts. This one isn’t a volunteer opportunity in the sense you’ll be out in your community interacting with those around you, but it’s a way to help someone in need. You can reach out to a local church and ask about a family in need to ‘adopt’ them for Christmas. You can also find your local food bank and donate, as they can always use more canned goods, personal hygiene items, etc. I recommend contacting them first to see what their needs are.
Consider taking a bunch of sandwiches, chips and cookies to a hospital ICU, CCU, or surgical waiting room. Waiting in a hospital an intensely emotional time. People do not want to leave their loved ones yet they still need to eat.
Whatever you decide, the Christmas season is the perfect time to perform an act of service for others around you and a great opportunity for parents to teach their young children about the joy in serving and helping those less fortunate. After all, Jesus is the one who taught us it is better to give that to receive. So give of yourself – freely and cheerfully.
And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 (NLT)