Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Ways to Find and Fill Someone's Need This Christmas

  • Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
10 Ways to Find and Fill Someone's Need This Christmas

We are called to look for, find, and help each other—especially at Christmas. Paul helps us to understand the place from which we are motivated and able to give in fulfillment of others’ needs in Romans 13:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Greek translation of “fill” in this verse signified an active filling in to perfection or completion. The only way we are able to find and fill someone else’s need is to be filled, first. The power of the Holy Spirit produces the place of great hope from which we give to others.

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  • 1. Start on Your Street

    1. Start on Your Street

    Slide 1 of 10

    God commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This phrase occurs many times in the Bible, from the Old Testament to the New. Galatians 5:14 signifies that “the entire law is fulfilled” through this poignant statement. The word ‘neighbor’ in Greek comes from a derivative of another word that means ‘near.’ Jesus taught that anyone we meet is our neighbor, and we know that God places people in our lives purposely. I believe proximity is never a coincidence. 

    Take a few moments to reflect on the life situations of neighbors we know. Parents of young children are always in need of a babysitter. Perhaps we can offer to watch their kids so they can go Christmas shopping together. Elderly tend to be more homebound around the holidays. We can take them a meal, invite them over for dinner, or offer to drive them around to look at the Christmas lights. 

    Being new to an area, or disconnected to those next door, doesn’t mean we can’t find and fill a neighborly need. A shoveled driveway, fresh batch of cookies, or hand delivered Christmas card is a great way to welcome new people to the neighborhood. 

     

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  • 1. Start on Your Street

    2. Check the Family Tree. Twice.

    Slide 2 of 10

    Distance, or disagreement, sometimes split and separate family Christmas traditions. Immediate families drift to different parts of the country as children fly out of the nest and parents towards retirement. Others may have suffered through losses and divorces that have decimated the family structure. The holidays have a tendency to bring any and all of the happy Christmas memories to the surface, but surely drag the bad ones along, too. 

    Reconnecting with family, or reaching out to someone who’s disconnected, takes a lowering of pride and expectations. Break cold ice by adding them to a Christmas card list, an invite to the family Christmas celebration or our social media circle. Though there can be history that justifies our disconnection, we’ll never regret reaching out to lend our welcome and forgiveness. That alone can be a heartfilling gift. 

    Separation and loss of holiday tradition isn’t always birthed from conflict. There may be elderly members of the family who cannot travel or reside in nursing homes, or, college-aged students who cannot afford to travel home for the holidays. If families cannot be reunited physically for the holidays, be sure to FaceTime them or send a care package to make sure they know they are not forgotten.

     

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  • 1. Start on Your Street

    3. Around the Friendship Circle

    Slide 3 of 10

    Each life has a circle of friendships that have supported us through particular seasons. David and Johnathon’s Old Testament friendship was rooted in the common love they had for God. It was in seeking Him first that they had such a close bond. Jonathon loved David as he loved himself (1 Samuel 18:3). 

    Social Media makes it easy to access friends from our past, to share a laugh over an old memory or let them know we’re thinking of them this Christmas season. What a gift just to know that we’ve not been forgotten. Frame a picture for a current friend with a note on the back telling them why their friendship is valuable. It’s a gift that will linger with them, even if the season of the friendship should fade or end. Think of the hobbies you share, hard times you’ve helped each other through, and activities you frequently do together, and look for a gift that sparks a happy memory. 

     

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  • 1. Start on Your Street

    4. Befriend Someone New

    Slide 4 of 10

    Christians walk around with a powerful capability to brighten someone’s path. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The word “light,” is used the same way in reference to Jesus being the light, and to describe the light of life that we have because of Him. That is assuredly more powerful than we understand or recognize. The work that God does through us does not always require our conscience cooperation. When we are walking with Christ, we are noticeably different; I say, brighter. 

    Christmas is a great time spark a new friendship with someone you volunteer with, a parent with kids the same age, or a new neighbor. When our kids mention new students, do our hearts go out to the parents in hopes of connecting them to our community? At our churches, are we seeking out new visitors for a chat over coffee? 

    A decorative plaque with the town’s name on it alongside a card to welcome them can make a new family feel right at home. If we look into our hearts prayerfully enough, God will help guide us to the person that needs a friend this holiday season. A friendly conversation could be just what someone needs to fill their heart this Christmas. 

     

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  • 1. Start on Your Street

    5. Laugh with a Child

    Slide 5 of 10

    The after school program that I volunteered with when I was younger, located in an impoverished area not too far from where I lived, taught me how easy it is to give a child the gift of our company. The laughter I shared playing board games with those kids was heart filling, for them and myself! From a familiar passage in the gospel of Mark, Jesus teaches us why it’s so important for us not to lose touch with what it means to be a child: 

    “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but he disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16). 

    Children are at the mercy of their caregivers. Some may learn about Jesus at home, and others will rely on people like us to invest time into their lives so that they can experience the love of Jesus for themselves. Check with area pastors and schools as to where the after school programs are, and how we can volunteer our time. One hour, once a week, can be a huge gift to a lonely kid. The gift of a familiar board game that we play with them, that they can take home and play with their family, teaches them how to pay forward the love shown to them. 

     

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    6. Serve the Starved a Meal

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    The Bible is clear that we are called to help the poor. In a world fallen and swimming in sin, there is no lack of those that simply fall on hard times. Isaiah 58:8 speaks of a hope that we can expand on as New Testament believers: 

    “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” 

    This is the light that follows our obedient generosity towards those who are hungry and in need. Jesus was close to those who were in dire straights, and I believe we are to follow His lead. 

    “And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10).

    Soup kitchens and local churches that serve free meals to the hard-pressed in the community need volunteers and donations. Food pantries that stock up on what is needed in the area have a running list of what they are in short supply of. Coming alongside each other to give out of the blessings we’ve been given is a gift to someone who desperately needs our help this Christmas. Pastors are always hyper-aware of families in need. Contact them, and find a family to bring a hot meal, or gift a grocery gift card. 

     

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  • 1. Start on Your Street

    7. Hospital Hugs

    Slide 7 of 10

    “I was sick, and you visited me” (Matthew 25:36). 

    I was struck by something when studying the verbiage of this text. In Biblical times, prisoners could die from starvation if family and friends didn’t visit with supplies, but visiting the sick was a common practice (NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible). In our society, I would venture to say that we don’t often visit sick strangers. There are hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care centers, and cancer treatment buildings full of people that need to know they are not forgotten this Christmas. 

    Giving the gift of company, a shared meal, a cheerful bunch of flowers, a teddy bear to a child battling cancer, or a small Christmas tree to adorn a dreary hospital room makes a difference in the heart of the recipient. The gift we give to someone that is sick is worth more than earth’s face value.  

     

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    8. Linger with the Lonely

    Slide 8 of 10

    Loneliness is an epidemic in a world connected by technology. Social media has made it easy for us to stay connected with each other, but has also removed our need for face-to-face—or voice-to-voice—conversation. As anyone who’s ever been pulled into a dramatic argument over a misconstrued email or tweet can attest, actual conversation still conveys the underlying tone of what we are trying to say, best. Aim to connect personally with a few people whom we’ve only talked to via screen lately. Make room for a lunch date or invite them over to make cookies or watch football. 

    The elderly and neglected that sit and watch the time go by in nursing homes and hospice care need our company more than ever. Giving up our time to visit them, some of whom may even be family we’ve not been to see in a while, will let them know they are loved. Take a Christmas wreath to put on their door, or a poinsettia to brighten their room. Bring a warm blanket as a gift or a pair of cozy slippers. Plan to visit them often, and leave the next year’s calendar with them, marked with the days that we will be back to visit. It will give them something to look forward to, a hope we can pass on because we’ve been given the ultimate hope. 

     

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  • 1. Start on Your Street

    9. Embrace an Enemy

    Slide 9 of 10

    A message popped up on my screen one day, asking forgiveness for something that had been weighing on their heart for over a decade. I was not only happy to oblige, but to let them know that I had forgiven them long ago. They were relieved, and we keep in touch with each others’ lives through social media. That experience stirred my heart to pay some apologies forward. We all hold onto situations that ended badly. 

    We live in an unfair world, but Jesus warned us that life was not about fairness, but forgiveness. Find someone that would be blessed to know they have been forgiven. Or, someone who we owe an apology to. I guarantee we all have people in our lives that sit on both sides of the fence. Jesus promised the world would be this way for us, but He also encouraged us! “In this world you will have trouble. But, Fear not! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We can find and fill this need of forgiveness because we have been forgiven.

     

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  • 1. Start on Your Street

    10. Give a Gift to Someone Who Will Otherwise Go Without

    Slide 10 of 10

    There are many ways to give a gift at Christmastime. Operation Christmas Child sends shoe boxes full of gifts around the world. Fill one for a child in a third world country. Churches have mitten, hat and scarf trees. Organizations exist to send coats to kids and blankets to the homeless. Take some time this Christmas to think about the needs we are most grateful not to have. Sitting by the fireplace in my cozy reindeer socks is a piece of peace on earth to me. I can give someone that gift: the gift of cozy socks. 

    The best way to find a reputable place to donate is to ask local churches, schools, and community organizations. They can point you to a list of charities to choose from, and options for giving to those in need this Christmas. If you know someone who just lost their job, make sure those organizations know who they are, so they can connect with them this Christmas. Perhaps we can offer to pay someone’s electric bill this month, so they can afford to pick up some presents for their children. Maybe we notice that our neighbors yard is still covered in fall leaves and we rake and take them to the curb for them. 

    There are endless ways to find and fill needs this Christmas. Those kind of presents are what Christmas is all about, because it makes way for the recipient and the giver to experience God’s presence. Jesus loves them and will never leave them, or us. Have fun shining light on someone’s Christmas this year. 

     

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    Meg encourages others to seek Him first through her life as a stay-at-home mom, career as a freelance writer, teaching Emotimoms Weekly Bible Study, and leading the kids worship teams at her local church. She resides in a small, Northern lake town with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Goldendoodle. Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org.