I really love the early weeks of Advent. Things are getting busy but not so busy as to make us incapable of the occasional moment of rest and reflection. People actually take the time to check in with their friends and family. Church people and others even give some thought to the birth of Jesus before the great buying and celebrating rush begins.
While we have these early moments of waiting I, at least, am giving some thought to the call to serve. Many of us give during the holidays to the food pantries, the special collections, "Turkey Boxes" at Thanksgiving, et cetera. The trick is to take the habits we develop now and moved them into the rest of our lives while also deepening the call to address some of the questions that arise from our helping others. Why are there poor people? Why is there discrimination (both individual and institutional? What can we do about the systems that enforce this inequality? How can we create long-term, sustainable solutions to the problems of our towns and communities? Jesus was concerned with many of these issues and we should be, too.
I have been doing some work lately in the realm of Faith-Based Community Organizing. I have been particularly involved in the development of an organization here in the western suburbs of Boston called MICAH. This group and others like it are doing their best to ask the hard questions and to find answers that fit the needs of their communities and regions. There are other organizations as well. In fact, MICAH is affiliated with a consortium of these groups.
If you have any interest in MICAH (whether you are a member of Eliot Church or not) feel free to drop me a line! The call to serve isn't just about giving things (although that is important, too). It is also about advocating for positive change for the entire community. That requires sustained discussion and constructive debate, and, finally, action.