Ten simple ways to serve when it’s stressful this Advent The first week of Advent flew by, but hopefully you spent ample time in prayer. As a priest said during a daily Mass last week, we have to meet Christ alone. It is vital to open our hearts to the Lord in private prayer to receive his overwhelming love and surrender our lives to him. But as we continue to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ, we also can share that love and help the people around us open their own hearts.

This week’s theme at Our Sunday Visitor is service, sharing the love of Christ with those around us, perhaps especially with those whom it is most difficult to love. Maybe this means the poor or the sick, or maybe this means that surly co-worker or impossible family member. Whatever the case, let’s make an effort this week to see Christ in all people.

God will bless your efforts and give you the grace to love as he does. As it said in the first reading on Sunday: 
“Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.” (Is 11:6-8)

Wolf, leopard, lion, bear, cobra, adder. God made them all, and he loves them. And with his help, so we can we. Here are 10 simple ways to serve this Advent:
  1. Smile and say a kind word (followed by a prayer and not an unkind thought) to someone who is difficult.
  2. Send a note to a loved one and tell them why you love them (it doesn’t have to be long).
  3. Visit an elderly member of your family.
  4. Cook a meal for a stressed friend or family member.
  5. Try to heal a rift by calling someone you have argued with (you could start with I’m sorry, and I love you).
  6. Visit a nursing home and play cards or talk with residents.
  7. Help serve meals at a soup kitchen.
  8. Call your local hospital and start volunteering.
  9. Sign up for a ministry at your parish. It could be as simple as helping decorate on Christmas Eve (it’s just a one-time thing, and sometimes they even feed you).
  10. Pick a family to gift with the 12 Days of Christmas tradition.
By seeing Christ in the people around us and bringing Christ into the world, you might be surprised at how much it opens your own heart. Take it back to prayer, and continue to prepare. Christ is coming!

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.