By Michele Mayer
Many of us are looking for ways to share the Christmas spirit by serving other people this holiday season. But it’s hard to know where to start—especially during a global pandemic!
Here are four questions to help you, your family, your small group or even a group of friends figure out how to live out your faith over the holidays, along with specific ideas for safe ways to serve!
1. Who do you know who could use your help?
Take a moment to look around you.
- Do you know elderly individuals who live near you and might need help? An offer to assist them with yard work, stringing lights on their home, or shoveling the snow that’s sure to arrive this winter is one practical way to serve.
- Do you have a friend or co-worker who is going through a divorce or is otherwise single and without nearby family? An invitation to Thanksgiving or even to simply provide a meal or deliver some Christmas cookies this season can mean so much to people who are feeling especially lonely around the holidays.
2. How can we wisely give gifts?
While it can be fun to buy gifts for others who can’t afford it, it can be difficult to know how to do this wisely. Our generous efforts to “provide Christmas” for families who are struggling can inadvertently increase their feelings of failure or, conversely, create a sense of entitlement over time.
Rather than “adopting a family” at the holidays, consider financially supporting a local non-profit organization that works closely with families in need. The Crossing’s annual effort, Equipping The Saints, is a great way to provide specific gifts to these organizations for the benefit of children and families they work with.
This year’s highlighted organizations include:
- Columbia Love INC: This organization works with individuals and families on the edge of crisis, providing budget counseling, job coaching and more, as well as practical help in times of deep need.
- City of Refuge: This non-profit works with refugee families in Columbia who are trying to establish a new life in our country, assisting with many basic needs.
- Great Circle: This organization works alongside child welfare agencies to provide foster care to children in Missouri.
As you seek to love and serve, even in the midst of so much uncertainty, please do so wisely.
3. Where can we give our time?
The holidays are often a great time to give our time to others—not just money. In many ways, this is the most powerful way to show people you care. But this is where the global pandemic gets in the way. How can we serve in ways that are helpful…and yet still safe?
Here are some suggestions:
- Many food pantries in Columbia can always use extra hands. Email [email protected] to find out when and where you can give a few hours to serve families who live with food insecurity.
- Most people living in nursing homes and other care facilities are feeling particularly isolated during this time. Writing notes of encouragement to a few of these elderly individuals can be a great way to give your time to others.
Single moms and families with special-needs children are especially grateful for help with childcare around the holidays. It gives them freedom to shop or provides a respite during a particularly-busy season. If you don’t know a family you can offer to help, reach out to [email protected] and get connected to our Single Moms Ministry or Agape Ministry for suggestions.
4. How can we continue serving beyond the holidays?
If you are interested in serving in an ongoing way throughout the year, consider joining The Care Ministry’s Community Response Team. You’ll find regular opportunities to serve others in our community, like providing help moving, donating food and other basic essentials, volunteering your time to meet practical needs. This serving team gives you the flexibility to serve in ways that fit your schedule and abilities. Serve every week, or every so often. When you sign up, you’ll receive regular emails with updated volunteer opportunities.
As Christians, we need to resist the temptation to focus inward.
COVID-19 has brought significant challenges to our lives in 2020, including the temptation to focus inward on the ways in which our own lives have become more difficult. But when we become self-focused, we miss opportunities to bless others who are struggling in all the ways we are and more.
Look outward! Consider one of the serving ideas listed above or find your own. Giving your time, talent, and treasure to others this holiday season might be more important than ever. Not only will it love our neighbors, but it encourages us to push back against the temptation to be consumed by how the pandemic has changed our celebrations or (worse) allowed us to justify focusing only on ourselves. Let’s celebrate the birth of Jesus this year by living out his call to love others well…yes, even in a global pandemic.
Are you looking for a way to love your neighbors and your community this Christmas? Join the Care Ministry’s Community Response Team to receive weekly emails with ways for you to get involved and serve.