Robert Clarke has been a faithful supporter and volunteer with Habitat for many years, including volunteering in Habitat ReStore Lisburn. Read his Advent reflection below.
How many times in the last 8 months have we heard government spokespersons or medical experts advise us to keep our distance, save the NHS and stay at home. Easier said than done for the many who either live in very poor quality, cramped, substandard housing or have no place at all to call home where they can feel comfortable, safe and secure.
I have had the wonderful privilege of being involved in several aspects of Habitat's vision of a world where everyone has a decent place in which to live. These include several Global Village teams, working on local Habitat building sites and volunteering in Restore Lisburn mostly in the areas of furniture repair and up-cycling.
My contribution has been largely practical in nature, but I, in return, have been greatly blessed by the friendship and camaraderie in meeting, learning from and serving alongside all sorts of people from very diverse backgrounds and from many different parts of the world. All have been gifted with different skills and abilities and it is so gratifying to see these brought together in a worthy common purpose to achieve seemingly impossible goals, that is, the provision of good quality, affordable housing for those in great need.
When we expect God to intervene and do something in our circumstances what do we imagine that will look like? Of course, God reveals himself in Scripture in a whole variety of ways, often spectacular. Sometimes in a pillar of cloud and fire, in a flood or storm, as a stranger in a fiery furnace. However, He mostly gets involved in our everyday ordinary lives and I certainly have witnessed evidence of his presence in the work and witness of Habitat volunteers and staff as they put God's love into action.
Father as we reflect on the situation in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago, we see that the King of Glory himself did not have a decent home to be born into.
We thank you for this advent season, this very special time of the year when we look forward to celebrating the momentous events that took place when Jesus came to earth to make a way so that we could be saved from eternal condemnation. Help us to engage in this time of preparation and expectant waiting for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and also for his return at the second coming. Help us to become more acutely aware of his precarious birth situation and of the plight of many millions of people worldwide who also do not have a decent place that they can call their home.
In Jesus' name I ask it. Amen.