This year, churches all over the world celebrate the season of Advent from 2-24 December. “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “arrival” or “coming”. Advent is a time for remembering and reflecting, while anticipating Jesus’ arrival at Christmas and His second coming.
How apt it was that we had our Staff Christmas Party on the first Sunday of this year’s Advent. About 90 staff and their family members had a meaningful time of worship and fellowship over food. This year, instead of exchanging gifts amongst ourselves, we gave financially to the Advent Christmas Tree Project. A Prison Fellowship Singapore initiative, this project brings the hearts of inmates and their loved ones together in the spirit of Christmas.
I first encountered this programme in the early ‘90s, while doing my seminary studies in the United States. At the shopping mall, my family and I saw a Christmas tree that Prison Fellowship had put up. Hanging on its branches were paper angel tags that held the wishes of inmates which volunteers had painstakingly written on their behalf. There were requests for gifts like a pair of new shoes, school bags and toys for their children. These tags were quickly picked up by shoppers and participating churches. All they needed to do was contribute a gift sum for the purchase of presents to be distributed to the children. This project provides inmates a means of bridging the gap with their children at Christmas. It is a simple way for parents to express their love, despite their absence.
What better way to serve the needy than by reaching out to them with the love of Christ this Christmas? To further do so, our various ministries will be having their own Christmas outreach throughout this month, sharing with friends and family the hope Christ’s birth has given us.
We are filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s enabling and empowering for the past year, both in our lives and ministries. Surely the first advent—the birth of Jesus—will continue to thrill our souls because it is the very reason for which we live and move and have our being (see Acts 17:28).