Commitment-Phobe: Advent challenge, day 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21
Advent is a period of reflection, it is not a comfortable time. It also happens to be the busiest time of the year for a churchgoer or parent or almost anyone. Unless you have sensibly looked forward to this time and made good preparations from October, this last week and a bit before Christmas becomes a moment of fight or flight which doesn’t bring out the best in anyone, and not me. So listed below are the many ways in which I did not enter into the spirit of the Advent Challenge.
Day 16 Theme: don’t take people for granted thank them. The options were:
- Give a Christmas card to a shop or business you regularly use
- Thank someone for whom you are really grateful
- Get to know somone who provides a service for you.
I choose option one, I didn’t get around to doing it.
Day 17 Theme: caring for those in need. Options were:
- Buy a blanket or some food and drink for somone living rough
- Take time to talk to someone living rough
- Or text to donate a food hamper and bible stories to UK family living in poverty
I ran around catching up on errands, intending to stop and do one of these options, I never did.
Day 18 Theme: hospitality. And not just to those you know well or like. The options were:
- Offer to cook a meal for someone who is unable to cook for themselves
- Open your house to those who you might not normally invite over
- Commit to inviting people over regularly (at least once a month)
I thought about option two. I know a church member who hosts a monthly pudding night for neighbours to come and share a pudding and chat. That still felt too difficult a leap for me, but I recommitted to having people at my home and sharing hospitality.
Day 19 Theme: creativity. The options were:
- Make a Christmas craft and give it to someone
- Create your own gift tags
- Teach someone a skill you have
With it being the last weekend before Christmas and panic buying and panic packing setting in, I didn’t even bother trying. I did, fortuitously, meet someone who taught and inspired me at the unlikely setting of a child’s birthday party. I am glad someone else was giving of themselves creatively.
The same evening I met someone new at another party and we discussed the fears, pitfulls and difficulties of getting to know your neighbours in London. Having turned down a last minute invitation to an all street party at one of his neighbours houses, he never recieved an invite again. Why did we both struggle so much with trying to get to know our neighbours, but were quite happy, in the context of a friend’s party, to sit and converse with somoeone we had never met before?
Day 20 Theme: Doing something kind without drawing attention to yourself. The options were:
- Leave an annonymous gift for someone
- Write an encouraging note to someone – and keep it annonymous
- Text Gaza to 70050 and donate £10 to give a Christmas present child living in Gaza
I just gave up! At midnight when I tried to send the text my battery cut out. Too little too late.
Day 21 Theme: how well do you know the Christmas story? The options were:
- See how well you know your way around the nativity story with our interactive online quiz. (Doing it now, not doing too badly!)
- Read the Christmas story and share with others what it means to you. (Looking forward to doing this at Christmas with my daughter)
- Explore the Christmas story with children using our free Bible Bedtime app (only works on iPads or Android phones)
Yesterday, whilst searching for some lost Christmas decorations, I came across a box filled with things I didn’t know what to do with when I moved home. It has remained ignored for a year, until now. In it I found a hand-me-down book by Joyce Meyer. It is a set of daily devotions. I randomly opened a page and found a devotion about growing in maturity. It says: “God does not expect us to be perfect… He meant that we should grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character.”
I am growing. I make mistakes, but God, in his amazing grace, still loves me. I see where I need to grow more: hospitality to strangers; thoughtful care of those in need. Organisation! I haven’t been at my best these last seven days, but that is what this period of reflection is about pinpointing. And instead of thinking in terms of dissapointment, I will think in terms of growth. How far have I come, how much further will I go?