A Stable Environment
By Greg Savage of Lee’s Summit, MO, USA
…they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. —Matthew 2:9–10 NRSV
“We want to raise our children in a stable environment.” During Advent, we can imagine this as a “punny” caption for a picture of the manger scene with the Christ-star wrapping the stable in light.
My parents raised my brother, sister, and me in such an environment with extended family and church family. However, I know this is not always the case for children who live in poverty. Many do not know Christ. Many do not know joy. Through the Mission Initiative Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, we see congregations at work to show God’s stable love.
In my work with mission funding, I have visited congregations that are seeking to provide a stable environment for children in their communities. One of these programs is a backpack ministry for elementary and middle school students living in poverty. Each week congregation members pack food in backpacks for the students and their families to supplement weekend meals. Each program started out slowly with just a few students but has grown to include other agencies, organizations, and churches. They are fulfilling their goal to provide a stable community for children, the presence of the Christ child, a community of joy, hope, love, and peace.
Though the path may not be easy, new horizons capture you
and the truths that you discover draw your maps of God anew.
Do not weary of the journey; boldly venture with each stride.
In a stable wrapped in starlight, joy, hope, love, and peace abide.
—“When the Present Holds No Promise” by Danny A. Belrose, © 2005 Danny A. Belrose, CCS 430
Prayer for Peace
Loving God, wrap us in Love’s pure light. Help us provide an environment of the nativity, with all of its joyful mystery, for our children in this Advent season. Help us provide an environment of peace.
Spiritual Practice Advent—Joy
Prepare room in your heart for the Christ child. Prepare room in your heart for joy. Think of the many ways you experience joy in the Advent season: bells, candles, lights, carols, special food, gift giving, time spent with family and friends—all part of celebrating the birth of Christ. Reflect on the many ways you can share joy in the Advent season: giving to those in need, making a place for everyone at the table, greeting strangers, helping others, being a presence. Continue your own list. Thank God for the joy you experience and the opportunities to share it.
Today, God, I will prepare for Christmas by centering on stable issues.