For the Urban Mission, the four weeks leading up to Christmas are some of the busiest of the year.
We, like most churches, celebrate the Advent season during this time. Although the themes of expectation, hope, joy & purity remain close to our hearts, our preparations are somewhat different.
For example, during the first week of Advent, we are busy distributing toys for our Christmas Kids program. In the weeks leading up to this program, we wait in expectation for all of our children to be “sponsored” by local churches, businesses, and caring individuals. When the distribution day finally arrives, we are overcome with the generosity of strangers and excited to see a child’s wishes come true.
During the second week of Advent, we host our monthly food distribution. With more than 1,600 families in need of food, we pray that each bag we distribute will serve as a glimmer of hope to a family wondering from where their next meal will come.
On the third week of Advent, we open up “Santa’s Recycle Shop.” This is a sharing of new and used toys for families who have missed all other opportunities to get presents for their children. Only one word can be used to sum up this event – joy.
And finally on the fourth week of Advent … with Christmas gifts provided for more than 1,000 children and food for more than 5,000 individuals, we are reminded of the pure, undiluted message of Christmas – that God’s grace & generosity are just as real and just as powerful as they were more than 2,000 years ago.
Friends of the East Ohio Conference, thank you being Christ’s light for us in 2013!
* Rev. Ashley Steele is the executive director of Urban Mission Ministries