Loving your neighbour from afar
Love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31)
Earlier in 2020, we looked at how we can love our neighbours in times of lockdown. We may not currently be experiencing the serious restrictions that were in place in the spring, but opportunities to meet in person are still very limited.
However, there are still plenty of ways we can show God’s love to others – including those we don’t know or have never even met.
Gifts for others
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Each year, as Christmas cards and gifts begin to appear in the shops (a date which seems to get earlier all the time!) we are invited to reflect on the greatest present ever gifted to humanity, Jesus: the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). If we are able, we can use gift giving to bring just a small reflection of the joy of Jesus to others, particularly those who are not as fortunate as ourselves.
Until 15th November, Bristo is collecting shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, run by Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1990 the organization has gifted over 1 million boxes of gifts to children in need across the world. As these are items you might find during your typical weekly shop, such as toys and school supplies, this is a fantastic and practical way of showing God’s love to others. The Salvation Army is also running their Christmas present appeal, which donates new toys and gifts to children who otherwise may not receive a present.
If you’re wondering what to buy for friends and family, or even as a Secret Santa present for a colleague, consider buying a gift such as the ones offered by Oxfam’s Unwrapped section of their shops and website. Through these gifts you will directly help Oxfam’s projects across the world, giving others access to water and education as well as supporting the organisation’s emergency response work. Another idea is to make your recipient a Secret Santa for a vulnerable child in the UK through the Action for Children website - this is perhaps an alternate to a work or friendship group Secret Santa .
Loving others in our local area
Anyone who loves God must also love their brother or sister (1 John 4:21)
In the news we often hear about brothers and sisters in our own city struggling, and it can be hard to know where to begin in terms of helping them. However, there are some great local organisations that you can support in doing this.
At Bristo we support Fresh Start, an Edinburgh-based charity that helps people who have previously been homeless by setting them up in a new home. To support their work you can donate, contribute items or volunteer. Alternatively, our local food bank is Edinburgh City Mission at Granton Baptist.
This year, we’re continuing to support the programme of giving Christmas Hampers to refugee families around the city. You can get in touch with the church to find out more and how you can contribute to one of the hampers.
Last Christmas our 20s/30s group also collected and delivered hats, scarves and gloves to homeless people in the city centre, along with cups of hot chocolate. This is a lovely way to connect with people in your local area – although we do strongly recommend doing this with others rather than on your own.
Giving your time
Above all…put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14)
Most of the above suggestions have detailed how we can use money to contribute to charities that help others. However, even if you don’t have too much money to spare this year, what you may have to give is time.
This may take the form of volunteering at local organisations such as schools or community groups – or even offering to tutor somebody in a special subject like a second language.
One local charity, People Know How, have a role of Wellbeing Caller, which you can sign up to. This involves calling somebody once or twice a week simply to have a chat, especially if they’re feeling isolated or lonely. The Wellbeing Calls service is currently being run via telephone and the organization will carefully match you with a service user based on both of your interests, allowing you to build a good rapport with each other.
You could also give your time by attending, or even organising, a virtual fundraising event. At Bristo we will be taking part in Tearfund’s Big Quiz Night on 14th November, together with Granton Baptist. This event will be raising funds to help people in need and contribute to Tearfund’s work towards ending poverty, which they do by working with local churches and Christian organisations. (If you are interested in joining us for an evening of fun you can email GBCbigquiz2020@gmail.com with your contact number. See you there…!)