Give More: Hope, Love, Joy Peace

Thanks to Wendy Hines for her guest post on the Advent Conspiracy theme of Give More.

When I first think about giving more during the more during the holidays, I think about my long gift shopping list. That carefully crafted list containing the perfect gift for everyone from my mom to my husband’s co-workers. I also think of frantic Internet searches for this year’s most wanted toy. The toy that my five-year old clearly said that she did not want back in October but just asked Santa for. Great, now I have to find one or face telling the truth about Santa to my daughter! In the mist of the craziness, I make my mind slow down and consider how to give more during Advent.

Whenever I think of Advent, my thoughts always go back to my first Advent at First Baptist Church of Asheville eight years ago. My husband and I had started attending First Baptist of Asheville shortly after our marriage. Like so many newlyweds we were looking for a church home that blended our different faith traditions. I had been raised in the Baptist tradition and he in the Lutheran. At First Baptist Church of Asheville we found the perfect blend of our traditions. After a service in early November, Eddie Morgan came to us and asked us to light the Love candle during Advent. Being from a traditional Baptist church background, I really had no idea what the Advent services were all about and now I was playing an important role in the service! So I set out to learn about the themes of Advent. I was truly amazed that the gifts God wanted us to have the most in our lives are: hope, love, joy, and peace. It is not like I didn’t really know this before since I have been Christian basically my whole life. But there was just something about the themes of Advent that struck me as totally new that year. This reframing has continued to fundamentally change how I look for the ways that God is sending me these gifts in my daily life.

ac_ppt_16x9_give_more_title1This Advent season I ask you to consider the ways that you can give more in three important areas:

Give more of yourself to worship more freely and fully this Advent. Allow yourself to really be fully present and focused during all of the Advent services. Allow yourself time to experience the peace that God so wants to offer you.

Give more of your time and treasure to the service of others. Volunteer with your family at a favorite charity, deliver some White Christmas boxes, or make an extra donation to the church to support its’ mission. Ask yourself, “How can I share God’s gift of hope with others this Advent season?”

Give more love to your family and friends this Advent season. We should remember that the love we show our family and friends will last long after the gifts of Christmas are long forgotten. I believe that one of the best ways to experience joy is through the love of family and friends.

As we enter the wonderful Advent season, consider how you will give more hope and love to receive more peace and joy this year.

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About Father Tom

Tommy Bratton is the Minister of Christian Formation at First Baptist Church of Asheville. He has been married to Laura, the greatest wife in the world, since March 27, 1993. They have three sons: Ryan, Jake and Ben. Tommy is a big fan of sad country music, dystopian books, and great movies. View all posts by Father Tom

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