I attended a men’s group this week where those gathered watched and discussed a video entitled “Advent Conspiracy.” A catchy title that did not portray my first impression as to the content of the message. Three pastors from separate churches in the US discussed and presented outreach initiatives that their congregations had undertaken to counter the North American commercialism associated with Christmas. I was impressed by the focused efforts of one of the churches to bring a continual supply of fresh water to a village in Africa through the building of a well. This was not the first time that I had heard of such projects, but the intent of the church that was involved in the project was stirring. They wanted to have a long term impact on a community by providing an essential need. The presenting pastor spoke about the doubt that the village leaders had at the beginning of the project and the reason for the doubt. Christians had come before and they had promised to help, but either the help didn’t materialize, or it was short-lived. The team from the sending church didn’t respond to the doubt directly, but went about their work and built a well. Not a shallow well, but a deep well, one that was rooted into the aquifer. The village will have clean water, indefinitely.
One of the values that I experienced and assimilated during my military service was that of delivering high quality effects. Whether the project was small, like a weekly briefing; or it was large, like a deployment. The concept of “just good enough” was never good enough. In the writings of Paul, excellence in service is a common theme (Col 3:23-24; Eph 6:5-8). The motivation for excellence is the glorification of God with an associated side benefit of divine reward for the one who serves.
The Christmas season is punctuated with many initiatives of charity, and we need to participate to the degree that we can. The atmosphere of seasonal giving is truly heart warming, yet, like a candle at the dinner table its light and warmth is short-lived, and soon the old routine takes over. I ask you and I to consider the value of excellence that permeates our military community and couple it with the current sentiment of service to identify a longer term initiative that you can either initiate or participate in and then do it. Invest your efforts, whether it is your finances, your abilities, or a combination of the two, with the view that you are participants in the advancement of the Kingdom of heaven on earth. Christmas is more than a season.