Aware of pressing economic needs and rising food prices, our church is doing their best this year to meet the financial needs of those in our community. We have angel trees and senior trees in the foyer; the children are filling shoeboxes; the church is soliciting and excepting monetary donations for a number of charitable ventures.
All of this is very necessary, particularly this year. But as our pastor encouraged us to reach out to the church with the names of those in need, I found myself thinking, “The people I know who are most in need actually don’t need money this year.”
Congregants at my old church struggle with loneliness and anxiety. A friend has a mother with severe Alzheimer’s in a care home. People are struggling with divorces, children with special needs, difficult marriages, sick family members. Parents with children are burnt out and overwhelmed. Cheerful workers are burnt out and frustrated. None of these people need money, but they all need help. They are lonely; they are tired.
This year, I found that I put up my tree earlier than usual. I jokingly texted my friend. “Christmas early this year. Can’t help it.” Five minutes later, she sent me back a photo: her Christmas tree box sitting in the middle of her living room floor, ready to be opened. The accompanying message? “I’m ready to cheered. I don’t care how early it is.”
It’s almost Advent. And as I approach the season, I wanted to post another Advent calendar. This one focuses on spiritual/emotional needs, not monetary ones. It focuses more on relationship-building, gestures, and small kindnesses. That’s not to say you shouldn’t give money, if you can: as our God knows, people need it. But the little things help, too, and even small and meaningful acts can be a gentle gesture and a foothold to those who need it at the end of another trying year.
Of note: the liturgical season of Advent begins November 28, but to keep it easy to remember (and to do), my Advent calendar of non-financial giving runs the month of December from the first to Christmas Eve. If you’d like to give it a shot, you can download it here or view it below: