There must be something in the air around Christmas time because everybody seems to want to be more generous. Something shifts and we start to care just a little bit more about each other. We volunteer at soup kitchens and holiday meal events, we buy food for people who don’t have enough, and we buy gifts for children who won’t be getting much this holiday season.

So if everyone else is already being generous, and we’re already giving our time and money to a dozen other things, why should we bother with Christmas Serve specifically? Surely, Open Door doesn’t need extra help blessing people at Christmas time. Couldn’t we just donate some money and call it good?

Donating money to help people isn’t bad by any means, but we want to do more than that. Our Christmas Serve is designed specifically to involve face-to-face contact with people; it’s supposed to force us into a situation where we show love and to bless people we wouldn’t normally come in contact with, and that’s important. Putting faces to the needs, seeing actual people who need help and working together to make things better for them makes all the difference. Here’s why:

1)  Really loving people is hard to do from far away.

When Jesus was here on earth, he didn’t only spend time with other religious people, or even only with his disciples. In fact, Jesus did almost the exact opposite: he went out of his way to seek out people whom society rejected. Jesus didn’t want to just love the people who were easy to love; he came and invested specifically in those people who were marginalized.

We know that as followers of Christ, we are to model the actions of Jesus. Our goal is to become more like Christ, including in the ways we interact with and serve people. We can say over and over again how much we love people, but what does that really look like? Loving people from far away isn’t that impressive; it’s how we love up close, when it’s messy and awkward and hard, that matters.

2)  It promotes unity in our churches and communities.

Getting out and serving together as a church is a great way for church attendees to get to know each other and learn to work together. It’s also a great way for our church to have a strong, healthy presence in the community. So many churches stay internal and keep to themselves, whether that’s motivated by fear or a lack of resources, and that’s not the model we see in the Bible. We don’t just want to be that big steeple on the corner; we want to be that big group of people who are actively loving and serving our communities.

3)  God uses us, not just our money, to bless people.

Serving people isn’t just about meeting their material needs, but about meeting their spiritual and emotional needs as well. Jesus didn’t just heal and feed people and send them on their way; he took the time to talk with them and really deal with their specific situations. Often, meeting physical needs is just easier. It’s cleaner, at least. Donating money, clothing, and food are great things to do, but donating time and energy is also important, and more difficult. We need to be showing people God’s love up close.

The cool thing about Christmas Serve at Open Door is that it’s a combination of all of these things. Our goal is to meet the material needs of the people around us, but also to give our time and energy to shop for and deliver the food boxes. We want to talk with people we normally wouldn’t come in contact with and start to introduce them to God’s love.

This is the beginning of building relationships with people in our communities and leading them on the adventure of becoming like Christ. Join us on December 10th as we gather together to serve our communities through Christmas Serve!