Have you made a list yet of what you want for Christmas?

Time is running short, so if you want to submit your list to Santa, you’d better get cracking!

Maybe you want some jewellery, a designer handbag, or a trip to a tropical isle?

Or perhaps your tastes run more to tools for your workshop, some custom bling for your car, or season tickets to see your favourite sports team play.

The kids in your life are probably way ahead of all of us and already know what toys and games they’d like.

As for me, after years of watching the historical British TV drama “Downton Abbey,” I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of having staff.

The size of staff required to keep a stately home like the fictional Downton Abbey running a century ago was considerable. They needed maids, cooks, valets, butlers, chauffeurs, and gardeners.

But the position that intrigued me most was that of footman. They seem to be so useful, able to turn their hands to any task around the house.

I really think I need a footman!

Or maybe, if I had to ask Santa for just one, a chef would be the better choice?

But really, I’m asking the wrong question. I should be asking: do I want to serve or to be served?

For Christians, there’s only one right answer:

It’s to serve others.

Scripture tells us that Jesus came to be a servant, and we as believers should follow His example.

“But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)

Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He humbly assumed the role of servant while here on earth. He even went so far as to wash the feet of His disciples. After doing so, He told them:

“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.” (John 13:14)

So rather than seeking to employ a footman, I should endeavour to be one, as it were. Not necessarily by literally washing the feet of others, but by serving them in some fashion.

Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Image by Prof. Hans Schneider via Wikimedia CC BY-4.0

There will never be an end to the things on our wish lists: our desires are insatiable. Once we get one thing, we want another.

Better to rein in our desires by being content with and grateful for what we have, and by turning our focus on doing good to others.

So this Christmas, instead of dreaming up a list of the new possessions you want, how about thinking up new ways to serve others?

Some families make it a Christmas tradition to volunteer at their local food bank. Others donate toys to charities helping children who are less fortunate.

Another idea is choosing a gift to buy for a needy family through the online catalog of a charity such as World Vision, or packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

If you have a knack for baking, you might deliver home-made cookies to elderly neighbours, or to community service workers as a way of saying thank-you for all they do. Or maybe you and your kids could make some cards and ornaments to deliver to a nursing home.

I’ll bet you and your family can think up even more creative ideas of your own to serve others. And when you put them into action, you’ll be being Jesus’ hands and feet.

What better Christmas gift to give others!

(If you’re reading this, Santa, please skip the footman. I now have a bunch of better ideas I want to give feet to!)

“…serve one another humbly in love.”

Galatians 5:13b

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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