The Christmas season presents an opportunity. An opportunity to reach out to those around us with the love of Jesus. Small, ordinary gestures inspired by God’s love; gestures God takes and transforms for His glory.

1. Invite someone you know to a Christmas service

For someone who doesn’t know Jesus, the thought of stepping into a church building may feel like a massive deal.

But inviting someone to an online service could be an opportunity for your neighbours, friends and family who don’t know Jesus to virtually step inside church from the comfort and security of their own homes.

Of course, the virtual life just doesn’t measure up to the in-person community that we were created for. So definitely invite them in person first - but perhaps, if this applies to your church, mention that the service will also be streamed online in case coming in person is too big a first step.

2. Connect with your neighbours – sing some carols!

Who did you exchange conversations with over the fence or across the road during 2020 during lockdown? Who joined with you in the cacophony of clapping for carers on Thursday nights?

Over the course of this pandemic, one of the unexpected positives we’ve seen has been the re-emergence of neighbourhoods and communities where people actually talk to each other.

As daily life slowed down in 2020, we were given space to take our eyes off our own busy lives and began to see those around us. Let’s not lose this.

Why not organise carol singing on your street? Carols are an ordinary part of our British Christmas experience, yet they proclaim an extraordinary truth. Sing carols with your neighbours this Christmas!

3. Deliver Christmas tracts

How many of the people you pass in the streets know the quaint Christmas story of farmyard animals, angels on clouds and a baby lying idyllically in a manger? Probably most of them.

But how many know the story of the teenage mother who gave birth in the squalor of an animal house to a son rumoured to be illegitimate? How many acknowledge the terrifying supernatural encounter that a group of ordinary shepherds experienced that night in 1st century Palestine? How many realise that ‘infinity dwindled into infancy’ when the baby of the Christmas carols was born?

The unlikely truth that Christians believe about the birth of Jesus is that ‘the Word became flesh.’

God himself took on the vulnerability of humanity and walked, talked, ate, laughed, wept, shouted, prayed and lived among us. In all the pain and in all the joy of it, he identified completely with our human experience.

If you want your community to grasp something of the significance of this, why not step out and deliver some tracts through local letterboxes this Christmas? Pray for each one as it goes, and for the person receiving it.

Find tracts here

4. Support local efforts geared towards the most vulnerable

There were countless acts of kindness in communities across the UK over the spring months of 2020 when we were in a nationwide lockdown. Neighbours shopping for those who were self-isolating; baked goods left on doorsteps; companies offering freebies as a gesture of appreciation to the NHS; people seeking out ways to support the most vulnerable in our society.

Is this generosity and compassion still part of our nation's daily rhythms? As followers of Jesus, we should be known by our love. So regardless of whether we're still seeing this in our communities, let's live graciously and generously in view of the love we've first received.

This might look like giving of your time or money to support those who are vulnerable or suffering in your local community. Find out what your church is already doing; discover a food bank local to you; volunteer with a soup kitchen.

5. Share God’s love with one person

When we stop and think about it – the billions in this world, the countless individuals we pass on a day to day basis, who don’t yet know the extraordinary love of God – it can feel overwhelming. Where do we begin to change this reality?

We start with one. One person who doesn’t know Jesus.

Commit to praying for them and serving them in small ways. Consider how you can share the good news of the Christmas story with them, in a way that connects with their context, speaks into their worldview, and points them beyond, to Emmanuel, God with us.

OM Christmas Appeal 2021