Those familiar with the church's liturgical calendar know that this season called Advent, leading up to Christmas, is a period of waiting and preparation. We prepare our homes and our places of worship to welcome the Christ-child. But what do Christmas lights, tinsel-adorned trees and lawn ornaments have to do with preparing our lives for hope to be born in the form of a baby?
With preparing our lives for the Christ who will come again to usher in a time of justice and righteousness and God's shalom?
Though popular culture has taught us that Christmas is a time of celebration and light [which it is], it's also a time that begs for introspection and the realization that we are still waiting in hope for the time when "Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." [Luke 3:4-6]
Brothers and sisters around the globe continue to wait, too. They wait for the next catastrophe to strike, for food to eat, for fair wages to be made, for dignity to be recognized.
For organizations like the United Methodist Committee on Relief [UMCOR], waiting is an active word. Though they pray that disaster doesn't strike, they know that sometimes it will without much notice. And so they await the opportunity in these cases to respond to need as it arises and to offer hope every opportunity it presents itself. By mobilizing communities and their leaders, by advocating for human rights, by building capacity and resilience with local partners, and by being a caring and loving presence in the midst of chaos, UMCOR is living out our hope for peace and justice.
As you seek to be in ministry with the marginalized and offer hope to those in your communities, consider supporting the local and global work of UMCOR. This might be the best gift you give this Christmas.
Read Ciony Ayo-Eduarte's reflection here, written as the storm approached.