Service Ideas for Advent

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Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Waldron, Maureen McCann
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Text from the first four paragraphs of "Some Service Opportunities During Advent"|Sometimes we are ready - as individuals, as a family, as a couple - to seek some opportunities to experience Advent with a different spirit. We are ready to have our hearts opened and engaged by doing some service for others. We know from past experience, or we've heard from others, that this is a very rewarding and grace-filled way to enter into Advent. It helps us to prepare for Christmas because we focus on how grateful we are and we enter into the spirit of sharing by allowing us to imitate our Savior who simply gave of his very self for us. And, it helps us get closer to the experience of the poor and needy of our world. We think about their needs and we do something - even if it is a small thing - to reach out.|This resource is here to just get our imaginations started. Each of us may have may other opportunities available in our parish or congregation, through a local charity or civic group.|Getting Started|The hardest part is getting started. Let us begin with some reflection. Why am I doing this? What grace do we hope to open ourselves to? Some of us could easily write a generous check and send it to a charity that helps the poor. There is nothing wrong with that. The grace comes when we settle on the amount. Will this gift be a sacrifice? Will it be tied to something we do or forego? For example, we could decide not to go to a Christmas Concert this year, to cut back dramatically on Christmas decorations or on alcohol or on new jewelry or new clothes. For some of us, these choices could result in a considerable amount of money for the poor. For some of us, we could do these things and still give more. We could associate it with our sense of gratitude for what we have. We could acknowledge our response to the fact that there are others who have so much less than we do, through no fault of their own other than their being born into different circumstances than our own. Some of us may have very little to give. We may be out of a job or without health care or struggling to make ends meet. And, even for us, there is a sense that we have more than many people on the face of the earth. Perhaps we have no money to give away, but we have time to give to help someone else. Getting started involves reflecting on what kind of service might be right for me and what it will mean.|Joining Others Who Are Helping|It is very rewarding to contribute to a common effort which others are doing. Our parish may have a relationship with a local food pantry or shelter. Joining in that effort can be a great opportunity to feel how we can work together to pool our resources and maximize their potential. And, the donated goods help those in need locally. Even if my faith community doesn't have such a relationship, I could see if some neighbors or friends or a committee at our church would want to help together. Perhaps we could be the ones who help our parish begin such a relationship.
Creighton University, Online Ministries
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