The Day of Encouragement and Remembrance Day are past and the next season is upon us. You know the one I am talking about, it's the one that my six and three year old are jumping up and down about. Christmas is about 4 weeks away and thoughts of Christmas cards, baking, decorating and yes, shopping, is beginning to be ever present on our minds. In a society and economy that puts huge value on Black Friday and Christmas as times of money and goods, Christians have to double down on our focus of deeper meaning and values being shown through our actions.
As my children are in very formative years of their lives, I am conscious about what our traditions and actions are teaching and forming in them. My wife and I are practicing vigilance in helping them learn about giving and caring for others, reminding them that it’s not material things that makes the holiday’s special, and we take time to repeatedly reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. We continue to stress that the time spent with friends and family, the time spent in service of others, and the time, energy, and money we give to others is important to who we are as Christians.
If you were not able to join us for the Day of Encouragement in Edmonton, we had a great day of exploring how to live a life of Shalom and how to make room at the table for others in our lives. Our denomination’s executive director, Steven Timmermans, encouraged us to think about that in the context of our faith communities but also with others in our neighborhoods, non-believers, people of different denominations, and even people of totally different faiths. As we follow our beloved traditions, Christmas can be a perfect time of year to reach out and try something new. In the spirit of kindness, generosity and advent, I encourage you to take a step at deepening a relationship with someone you may not typically rub shoulders with and see what God might do.
Another consideration that I would encourage deacons to think about and promote within your diaconates and churches is engaging with great resources like gift catalogues and reverse advent calendars. World Renew offers an extensive Gift Catalogue that allows you to support people around the world and give a gift on behalf of yourself or a loved one.
The other thing that I have discovered this year is the reverse Advent calendar. Instead (or on top) of taking something out of a box each day, consider getting a box and putting something in it each day of Advent. Then when it is full, you can donate it to a person or organization that will pass it along to someone in need. The Food Bank is one example and others can be found with a quick Google search or on my post www.facebook.com/yournadc.
This Christmas as we steward the gifts God has given us, as we think about meaningful ways to participate in justice and as we find ways of sharing compassion with those we love and those around us, may we do so with God going before us, the Holy Spirit guiding us and Jesus Christ as our example and leader.
Blessings to you from the Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference,
Jesse Edgington – NADC consultant