Eimear Stewart, teacher at Carrickfergus Grammar School, has got her students involved with Habitat's Change Makers programme, learning about active citizenship & social justice. She has also travelled to support our partner programmes in Zambia & Romania. Read her Advent Reflection now:
For lots of us, this time of year is far from peaceful. We frantically buy gifts, Christmas trees, decorations and of course, food in abundance. We busy ourselves going to Christmas markets, attending carol services and organising family get togethers. And for many, this becomes a favourite time of year. But in amidst the lengthy to do lists and full calendars we can end up missing out on the true gift Christmas brings. This is a gift, unlike the ones we receive from our loved ones, that we can hold onto forever - it is unconditional, eternal and unbreakable. The gift of Jesus Christ.
When we stop and take a moment, what peace can dwell in our hearts as we fully realise the amazing gift that God has given us in His son: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given...His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
I have loved being able to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity over the last ten years. What Habitat does mirrors the gift that Jesus has given us: peace. Just as we can have peace in knowing we have a saviour, Habitat provides worldly peace to those without a home. The vulnerable in society who have previously lived in fear - without security, without safety, without protection are given a place to call home, and with it a sense of peace. I have seen this first-hand from people like Jean and her family in Zambia and Ionut, Simona and Theodara in Romania. And this is just a glimpse into the Habitat story.
This advent, I encourage you to pause and take time to reflect on the peace we can have in God’s amazing Christmas gift. And as we give gifts to our loved ones, consider how we can give the gift of peace to others through the work Habitat does every day.
Lord, we thank you for the most precious gift we have ever been and will ever be given: Jesus, your son. We thank you that, in grace and humility, you sent Him as a gift to us. Lord, we know that in this world we will all face trials. Let us take time to remember, in this season of advent especially, that you have overcome the world: this is the amazing truth we are reminded of at Christmas. May we trust and rely on you and have a renewed sense of your peace that goes beyond our understanding.
Father, we thank you also for the work of Habitat: for the hardworking staff team and for the committed volunteers both in Northern Ireland and beyond. We pray that you would bless the work of Habitat. Help them to reach out to more and more of those without a place to call home, giving them the gift of peace and security through sturdy walls, a door that can lock and the basic facilities that we all should have for our families. In Jesus’ precious name we pray.