AHA students recently brought gifts to the annual Christmas Basket Prayer Service on December 16 (pictured above).
At the beginning of the prayer service, Emily Boland, senior and member of the AHA Campus Ministry Team, shared the following reflection with the AHA student body:
Let us reflect on the reading from the Book of Deuteronomy.
In this reading, we hear of people who live in the community of the Lord having needs that are not being met. The scripture reminds us that we too live in the community of the Lord and that this community has been given to us by Him. "You shall not harden your heart nor close your hand against your kin who is in need. Instead you shall freely open your hand and generously lend what suffices to meet that need." These words directly connect to the time-honored tradition at Holy Angels - the Christmas Baskets.
As a member of the Holy Angels community, I can say that we have all participated in service at one time or another. However, the Christmas Basket tradition represents another form of service. Rather than serving communities miles upon miles away - such as packing meals for Feed My Starving Children, which is still a wonderful and honorable form of loving our neighbor and serving those in the Lord’s community - our community, through the annual Christmas Baskets, serves those in our immediate community. These Christmas baskets serve as an excellent example of community involvement which enables the entire community to grow and brings positive and measurable change. This is also a way that we can spread love and joy, especially to those who are in need of it and especially during this season of giving.
Another verse from the scripture states, "When you give, give generously and not with a stingy heart, for that, the Lord your God will bless you in all of your works and undertakings." These words serve as a reminder to us: do not be vain in your giving. Your kindness to others should not be for personal gain, nor should there be any ulterior motives behind it. Give what you can, and give with a generous heart.
Remember that these Christmas Baskets that you and your homerooms have crafted for the members of our community are not just a check off the list, not just a requirement, not just a religion class assignment. These baskets may help those in our community feel loved and cared for. Although many of us will not meet those we have packed these baskets for, we can understand that we might have a difference in their lives, perhaps bringing them feelings of hope, peace, love, and joy - just as the four Advent candles represent.
I invite you all to not only give during the Advent Season. Remember that you can be involved year-round, whether it is for someone you know, like raking leaves or shoveling snow for your neighbors, or for someone you do not know, like organizing a food collection to donate to your local food shelf with your family. I remind you that we are called to serve, and God will bless us in all of our work and undertakings.