Advent – December 18th

Joy in Service

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“For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (phil.1:7).  When your heart is filled with love and gratitude, you are able to look beyond your own needs and reach out to the world.  Those who have been blessed by Christ, are filled with a desire to make a difference in the world.  Christian churches have led the way in caring for the poor, sick and oppressed.  Anytime you hear of humanitarian work in the world, you will usually find the gospel message at its core. 

Matthew 25:31-40

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. . . The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation off the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ . . . “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.


It is easy to forget that the government did not always fund health, education and welfare.  Initially it was the responsibility of the family and community to care for those unable to care for themselves.  With the advent of Christianity, the church began to care for the widows and orphans, calling them brothers and sisters in the Lord.  It went beyond the family of God, eventually reaching those who had no knowledge of Christ.  Missionaries and Catholic orders have been painted with a negative brush because of the cultural damage and scandals that have come to light in this last century, but without their unselfish efforts, many of the institutions that we take for granted would not exist.  In North America, the hospitals and schools were all begun by Christians loving their neighbor.  They have become secularized over the past one hundred years, but at the origin was a desire to share the Kingdom of God with the world.  True love serves out of the heart of gratitude from the believer.

God equips each of us with talents and interests that can be used to serve in His kingdom.  Whatever your talents, there is a place for you. “I don’t have anything to give” is false modesty.  Anyone can pray or greet the stranger or befriend the friendless.  Churches and community organizations are always looking for volunteers to do simple tasks.  The star on the stage needs a crew behind the scenes to make it happen.  There are always more acknowledgements for those who are unseen in a program than for the main cast.

The unsung heroes of the world die in obscurity.  Few recognize their work because they don’t look for accolades.  They rejoice when others are praised, and they carry on serving anonymously.  Look for those people in your family and church.  When Christ returns, we will be surprised by those He singles out.  What joy to be thanked by the King of Kings for sharing His love with the world.


” Lord, at Christmas we are keenly aware of the needs around us.  Give us eyes to see the ways we can show your love in the world around us.  Encourage us when we feel insignificant and incapable of making a difference.  Help us to see those around us who are sharing your love in acts of kindness and service.” Amen

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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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