For the Streetlight youth workers and mentor, a recent addition to our Christmas calendar includes attending the Christmas concert at the local elementary school, Dr. J. Edgar Davey. This year, before sitting down with parents, guardians, teachers, and other community members to enjoy the musical talents of many of the kids we have come to know and love, we were also able to share donuts and a Christmas greeting card with the school’s staff members to express our thankfulness for the all the work they do to educate and care for the children in our neighbourhood. During the concert, we were thanked as partners of the school. The name of our church and programs (especially Kids Club at the elementary level) is becoming more known to school staff and we are often told how excited the kids are to attend our program each Wednesday.
During the Christmas season, many organizations, whether church-related or secular, come together to share gifts, food, and other items with those who are looking for extra assistance or for connection and community during the holiday season. At Streetlight, we have established our own programs and traditions to meet these needs in our neighbourhood, with the aid of donations and volunteer help from many in the extended church community. These include:
- Our annual Kids Club Christmas store – Donations of gift items for family members and teachers were collected and the 50 children who attend Kids Club were able to choose and wrap up items for loved ones
- Kids Club Christmas meal and gospel presentation – For families of children in Kids Club
- Gifts – Purchased for each child/teen in Kids Club, Boys Club, Girls Club, and Youth Group
- Youth Christmas Banquet – For middle- and high-school aged kids
- Family and individual toiletry bags – Devotional material, grocery gift cards, warm winter items, and fruits and veggies from the Good Food Box, given out at the Adult Bible Study or hand-delivered to families by staff members.
Though Streetlight is not unique in organizing assistance and gifts for families at Christmas or even in providing meals and other events to celebrate as a community, there is an intentionality that staff and congregation members carry with them throughout the season. Most importantly, during all the shopping, planning, and other busy tasks, we remain focused on the idea of presence. The miracle and glory of God’s incarnational presence in the person of Immanuel and the presence we can have in the lives of the people God has gathered together in worship and service at Streetlight.
We visit families and individuals in their homes throughout the year and also make this a priority leading up to Christmas. We invite people to come together at God’s house on each Sunday (and for a special service on Christmas Day). We are a safe place throughout the week for children and adults of all ages to gather and learn about Jesus and what it looks like to serve him in community. This continues all throughout the year, but Christmas remains an incredible opportunity to invite the lost and lonely into the comforting presence of God’s family.
By Danielle Heemskerk, Youth Worker