This time of the year tends to foster generosity and service in our culture. Churches and organizations reach out to those on the margins by donating food and clothing. Schools become liaisons that connect those who wish to “adopt” a family for the season with students whose families need assistance. Nonprofits typically see donations increase during December. Churches emphasize offerings of prayer and financial support for global missionary personnel. Friends who live in retirement and long-term care communities tell me that their calendars are full of seasonal events, courtesy of local choirs and instrumentalists. Our collective spirit seem most charitable during this season of giving.
But to be formed in the image of Christ means challenging the status quo. Giving need not have a season. Certainly, Advent’s message of hope and promise compels us to give because of God’s incarnational gift to us. Yet there are needs to address, prayers to offer, creative expressions of grace and kindness to share all year.
As Christ forms Paul into a servant, new doors open and new opportunities emerge that invite him to share the gospel. When his familiar communities don’t listen, he discovers a wider world of beloved people, all created in God’s image and for whom Christ died. With God’s grace, Paul enters these new venues boldly.
Paul writes to the Christians in Rome that he is confident that they are full of goodness. His words speak to us today. Be confident that after the tree comes down, the lights are put away, and the wreaths are back in storage, a world in need awaits. And you and I, empowered by the Spirit, still have more to offer.
How might your giving in this season be preparing you to serve in new and creative ways in the months to come?
God, make us your beloved community with grateful and generous hearts. Amen.