As this Advent season draws to a close, we would like to profile, albeit briefly, the numerous ways some of our member churches are serving and loving their communities.

Grace Northridge in San Antonio, Texas, once again reached out to Lamar Elementary School, this time by creating the Loving Lamar Christmas Store. They not only served the children but their families by providing an opportunity for students to earn “cash” to “purchase” special gifts for mom and dad. It was a huge success with over 130 kids shopping for 2-5 items each, and still there were donated items leftover.

Similarly, St. Andrew’s Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, served their community through the local elementary school. On December 6, volunteers from St. Andrew’s got the opportunity to tell over 500 students and their families about Jesus’ love for them at their event called Christmas Blessing. Wilson students and their families came to enjoy dinner, a Christmas message, making a craft, and receiving school uniforms, homemade cookies, and a Bible.

Those at All Saints Anglican Church in Newport, North Carolina, served the elderly as others served the young. The “Share the Christmas Spirit Hands-On Outreach” raised over 100 gifts for seniors in Harborview Nursing Home, One Harvest Food Ministries, and Crystal Bluffs Care Center. They were delivered on Monday, December 12.

unnamedFinally, New Covenant Church in Winter Springs, Florida, had a Christmas party for the African refugees in their community. From 11:00 to 3:00 on December 17, volunteers organized “reindeer games, crafts, food, and gifts,” including decorating cookies and ornaments.

As we near Christmas Day, we would like to wish everyone around the Mission a merry Christmas and to close with a quote from an Advent meditation Rev. Canon Kevin Donlon distributed:

In Hebrew “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”And yet we pray, “Come!” In these very words, we realize that which is with us is not fully with us, and still has to come. Advent joy is like that. On one level, it is already given to us, but on another we long for a joy that is not here yet.