Advent (a word that means “coming”) is the time leading up to Christmas where we wait and hope for God to be With Us in Jesus. In order to increase our hope in God, not just at Christmas but in our lives going forward, we invite you to take our Christmas Challenge. We will post one practical mini-challenge each week until Christmas and one on Christmas Eve. (For math enthusiasts, that makes for five mini-challenges.) If you commit to this challenge, we believe you and your neighbors will have a different experience of Christmas.
Week 1 (Hope): Make a Christmas budget. Even if you’ve already bought some presents, start now. Pray about what you should spend and set a limit (hopefully one that requires discipline on your part). This will help us to hope for God at Christmas more than we hope in consuming things. Bonus: If you know about what you’ve spent in the past, make your budget 10% less than that and give half of the difference to a charitable organization (click for some suggestions) of your choosing. Example: You spent $500 on gifts last year. You would budget $450 this year and give $25 to a charity.
Week 2 (Peace): Reconnect or reconcile. Who’s someone with whom you’ve had a falling out or someone you’ve not forgiven or someone to whom you need to say sorry? In any case, you’ve not been in touch with them because you’ve not made the effort and/or you’re afraid and/or you’ve convinced yourself that you have the right to stay out of touch. This week, call that person or schedule a time to get together (no email or Facebook message!). Stick with it until you actually get in touch with them. You never know. They might be thinking about you–wishing they could reconnect or reconcile with you. Reach out to them with the peace of Christmas.
Week 3 (Joy): Serve somebody. Do something randomly kind and thoughtful for someone who’s not expecting it. Think of someone–a coworker, classmate, neighbor or even a person you don’t know–and devote this week to coming up with something you can do for them or with them. And don’t settle for a little something. Go for something extravagantly kind (but not necessarily extravagantly expensive). Lastly, consider doing it anonymously. Whatever you do and for whomever you do it, do it with the Joy of Christmas in your heart.
Week 4 (Love): Go be with somebody. Is there someone you know who might be lonely at Christmas? Someone in bad health? Someone in jail? Someone who’s hurting from a breakup? Whatever the case, go and spend time with that person or group of people in the next few days–on Christmas Eve, Christmas day and/or one of the days following Christmas. And leave your expectations behind. Don’t worry about what may come of your time with the person or group. Pray about your visit in advance–that the Spirit of God With Us would guide you. Then, be present with that person and share the Love of Christmas.