The prophet Isaiah, in prophesying the coming of the Davidic King from the stump of Jesse, testifies that his coming will bring justice to the poor: “Not by appearance will he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he will judge the poor with justice, and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.” To the prophet—the coming of the Davidic King will mean an end to injustice. This verse is the reason many of our parishes call our Advent giving trees Jesse Trees—to show that the coming of Christ will be good news to the poor. Previous versions of these trees contained ornaments with Old Testament prophecies highlighting how the coming of Jesus Christ would be good news to the poor—today’s versions often contain items the church is seeking for donations for the poor.
Jesse Trees are one way that we can give witness to our sincere belief that the coming of Jesus Christ, especially in this upcoming season of the Incarnation, is good news for the poor. What are some other ways?
- Remember those on the margins—especially the sick and the homebound! There are many, some materially poor and some of means, who will not be able to join your parish in person for Christmas services. How will your parish include them? Consider dispatching people to nursing homes for prayer services, sending cards, mentioning the homebound by name on the Livestream, or giving a phone call to seniors on Christmas day to check in!
- Break down barriers—especially for those who have mobility issues or special needs! Since people often travel to different churches for the holidays, you will need to be prepared to accommodate different needs than on a normal Sunday. Make sure that greeters and ushers are available to open doors, that handicapped seating is reserved, and that restrooms are stocked and accessible.
- Remember those who grieve—especially those without family! The holidays are a joyous time for most, but also a painful reminder of loss for those who are grieving. The holidays are also hard for people that are estranged or separated from family by distance. Consider having a special dinner on the holiday to welcome those who don’t have other plans, or host a coffee and donuts on Christmas morning to allow people without anywhere else to go to be with others.
- Welcome the smallest among us—especially children! It’s no secret that children are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. If we can find meaningful ways for children to participate in our Liturgies, we give great witness to the value our community places on the young.
Can you think of other ways that your parish can make the coming of Jesus good news for the poor? Check out the Evangelical Charity Group on the EGW Detroit Mighty Network and add your idea to the conversation!