Christmas is the time of year when people in many parts of the world, even people who don’t believe the Christmas story, are aware of it. When he was asked to cite the greatest commandment, Jesus made clear that loving people is the primary tactic for leading them to him. Your neighbors’ familiarity with Christmas makes it an ideal time to love them. It takes creativity, so now’s the time to start planning. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
It’s the season of giving, so be super generous! You’ve read stories about over-the-top generosity. The person who left a huge tip for a server at a restaurant. The family who gave one of their cars to someone who needed it more. The people who pooled the money they’d have spent on one another and gave it to a neighbor who’d been out of work for too long. Why not set aside some time with your family or friends and brainstorm how you could practice sacrificial generosity this Christmas?
It’s the season of caring, so go out of your way to meet someone’s needs. Holidays are annual opportunities to love your neighbor. Sometimes people’s needs are obvious, which makes it easier to know how to help. They’re ill or homeless or hungry or all of the above. Other times people’s needs only come to light in the context of relationship. You get to know your neighbors and discover an acute problem. As Christmas approaches, why not be intentional about pressing into relationship with your neighbors? If you learn of a need, figure out how to help meet it. For a great example of what this can look like, check out the book (which is now a movie too) Same Kind of Different as Me.
It’s a season for family, so welcome some neighbors into yours. Whether or not you serve in a part of the world where Christmas is celebrated, you get to celebrate it. A great way to demonstrate the spirit of the season is to invite some people from your neighborhood into your family celebration. There’s something disarming about being in another home and sharing in the life of those who live there. You make a loud love statement to people when you open your door to them and include them in the family conversation, meal, gift-giving and other rhythms of your Christmas celebration.
When you do things like this at Christmas, you accomplish at least two important things. One, you let people know what it’s like to be loved. And two, you give them a natural reason to ask why you do things like this. This question amounts to an invitation to tell them about your relationship with Jesus, the real reason for the season.