It is clear that Jesus was not born on December 25. That does not mean Adventists cannot practice compassion during the Christmas season. Compassion must be a lifestyle that permeates every waking hour, every day of the year, including the holiday season. Compassion was a priority of Jesus daily, even during the holidays: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them”—Matthew 9:36 (NKJV).
An Adventist pioneer, and a former Adventist youth, right here in the Atlantic Union territory had some interesting things to say about Christmas, Ellen White wrote: “If we would indulge less in feasting and merriment upon these occasions, and instead make them the means of benefiting humanity, we should better meet the mind of God”—The Review and Herald, December 11, 1879, par. 6.
This is what she did during a cold Christmas in Denison, Texas, in 1878: “I suppose you will be interested to know how we spent Christmas. The day before Christmas, we went to town, and it was tediously cold. I suffered with cold. I never remember of its being much colder in Michigan. But Brother Moore’s people were living in a tent and were very uncomfortable. We were determined he should not live thus, and we commenced to bring about a change. We moved them into Sister Bahler’s old house, which was very open but better than a tent, for several nights. We had divided our bedding with them to keep them from suffering.
“We then went to the city and purchased for them flour, white and graham; sugar, a bone of meat. . . . We laid out $10 for clothing to make them comfortable, and necessary furniture to get along. I will tell you everything they had for breakfast—a few corn gems and a little beef suet fat. Not a chair; a straw bed and a comfortable laid over it. The children had an old rug and blanket laid under them. Sister Moore had no shoes, no comfortable clothing. He had no pants fit to be seen.
“Christmas morning we all took breakfast together”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 318.
Do not spend the Christmas season fighting those who celebrate it, attacking Christmas trees, or trying to keep others from mentioning the word. Rather, show compassion to someone. That’s what Jesus would do.
Just a few tips:
1. Prepare a banquet for families that go hungry.
2. Organize a coat drive.
3. Coordinate a toy drive for kids in need (your post office has thousands of letters that kids send to Santa; unless you do something, these requests might never come true).
4. Visit someone who is lonely or recently lost a loved one.
5. Invite a homeless for soup or pizza at a deli.
6. Sing songs about Jesus’ birth with your youth group at a busy corner of your city.
7. Visit a cancer ward in a hospital.
8. Visit a waiting room at a hospital emergency room during late hours and give out some hugs and hot chocolate.
9. Arrange a visit to a local jail.
10. Send cookies and a great book to a solider deployed overseas.
11. Visit affluent families and businesses and request their partnership with your youth group to sponsor a family in need.
12. Invite your neighbors over for dessert.
13. Invite college students, who cannot afford to go home for the holidays, to your Christmas dinner.
Remember, “For as much as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me”—Jesus.
José Cortés, Jr., is the director of Adventist Youth Ministries in the Atlantic Union.