I love the church seasons. I love that Christmas is twelve days of feasting. I love that Advent and Lent are long enough for some contemplation and habit-forming.
We like to focus charity during Advent. The scriptures of the season certainly support this: Isaiah 61, Luke 3, Matthew 11, Luke 1:46-55. And our family needs more than just a day here or there to build a new habit. Advent is long enough that we can spend time daily thinking about the poor both far and near, and how we are called to serve them in love.
Specifics in how we flesh that out have included many things (never all in one year):
- reading about St Nicholas’s acts of charity
- giving the children a budget to spend from the World Vision (or Samaritan’s Purse, or World Relief) gift catalogs
- helping them choose some of their more gently used toys and clothes to donate to a shelter
- participating in a coat drive or food drive
- sponsoring a family for a holiday meal
- Operation Christmas Child, or giving gifts through Angel Tree
- baking cookies to give to our neighbors
- shoveling snow for our neighbors
- giving the money from our Kindness Jar (where we put loose change, allowances, fines I levy for unkind acts, bonuses I pay into the jar when I see unexpected acts of kindness between the children) to a charity of the children’s choice
- a discipline of daily prayer specifically for the needs of a group– Karen refugees from Burma, for example– or friend who is sick
At the end of Advent, some of these habits have continued– have penetrated our hearts in a new way. In way that brings God with us. Emmanuel. Isn’t that what we’re waiting for?
Find more posts on Keeping Advent at Kerry’s Blog, A Ten O’Clock Scholar.