By Marion Medina

You can tell it’s Christmastime by the ringing of the bell outside Jewel and by the appeals for donations in the mailbox, which, in terms of sheer bulk, come in second only to catalogues. It’s good to give this time of year – in fact it’s good to give anytime. Recent studies have shown that people feel happier when they give something than when they get something. And giving is relatively easy. You write a check or drop in a coin and it’s done.

But God didn’t just write a check. God came near.


That’s a lot more demanding. When I come near someone, I have to interact with them, and sometimes that leads to more interaction and one more relationship added to an already crowded life. Coming near requires me to give something more costly than money – it requires my presence, my time and my energy. But what if the busyness of life is robbing us of something amazing? If material giving makes us feel happy, what might giving a part of ourselves do – could it bring us more than happiness? Could it be the key to joy?

We tend to assume that the people around us have calendars as full as ours, but I was surprised to hear from two people last weekend that they will spend either Christmas Eve or Christmas day all by themselves. So here’s what Ray and I plan to do: we’re inviting a couple of neighbors over for a simple evening, and while we share time with them, we’ll be asking questions and finding out whether or not they have family coming in or other plans in place. If they don’t, we’ll invite them to share in some of our plans this season.

What about you? Could you make time to have some conversations with neighbors or co-workers and find out what they have planned this month? If they’re free on a Sunday, invite them to one of the Christmas services and then go out for brunch afterward. And if they’re free Christmas Eve, invite them to go with you to one of the services and perhaps even back to your house for whatever celebration you have planned.

Maybe the joy you are looking for is just around the corner…or a couple of doors down. Thank goodness the Creator didn’t wait for us to come to him. God took the first step. God came near.

Marion Medina is the director of evangelism and community outreach at Immanuel. She enjoys running, nature, exploring, traveling and spending time with the people she loves. 

Cover photo compliments of Alita Jewel Photography. 

One thought on “Local Outreach: God Came Near

  1. Marion, this is a beautiful message and a gentle reminder that if we are to be like Him and emulate Him, the giving of our time and space is in order, too. Thank you for this.

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