Advent is a time when we need to show our faith to others and then tell them about Jesus by our actions. It is the perfect time for churches, religious groups and civic organizations help those in need due to poverty, hunger, unemployment and come alongside those who are suffering from broken relationships. Christians seek to show the love of Christ to others with deeds and not just with words. This year, 2022, has been particularly difficult as our nation has struggled to come out from under the global pandemic that has hit us hard economically, physically and mentally. The conditions have improved over 2021, but there are still a great number of people who are sick, out of work or lonely. I have an 80 year old friend that faithfully works at her church’s food bank sorting and filling bags of food for the hungry. Hunger and shortages still exist. Many of those seeking help have never had to ask before as they had always been self-sufficiently employed.
One verse in our Christmas story brought this to mind. Luke 1:56 speaks of Mary staying with Elizabeth for about 3 months then going home to Nazareth. “Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” Scripture said that the angel appeared to Mary when Elizabeth was in her sixth month, “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,” Luke 1:26 Doing the math, it would seem that young Mary who was only just pregnant came to visit Elizabeth when Elizabeth was six months along. She stayed with Elizabeth in the last months of her pregnancy before John was born, when Zechariah was not able to talk (Luke 1:20), and she was probably a great comfort and blessing to this aged mother and father to be. We are not told in scripture that Mary was present when John was born, but I would imagine Mary stayed until John was born and then returned home. By helping Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary was also blessed and comforted as she shared this time with them.
In this one verse God shows us how we are to be supportive of each other and stay the distance. My friend could go and help out occasionally at the food bank but she has made it a priority to give of herself 3 days a week. Many I know, prior to Covid, went regularly to nursing homes to share, sing and pray with residents or visit those in hospitals. Another friend had a brother that had a severe accident and the family ministered to him and nursed him back to health after being released from the hospital. Ministering to those in need shows godly character as we give, are compassionate, merciful and kind. It also opens the door for us to speak of our motivation for doing acts of kindness, Jesus.
As we seek to cope with our own fears after this pandemic, try to find a way to meet someone’s needs this week. It could be a phone call, text, card or letter to a friend you know is lonely or sick. Maybe you can make cookies or bread to leave on their doorstep. Know that things done serving others motivated by our love for Jesus pleases God. Jesus told us in John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Let the world see your love for Jesus through your actions of service towards one another this season and into the New Year.