By April Alston
Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation as we make our way towards Christmas. This year the theme of Close to Home will guide us through the season as we explore the metaphors and imagery of home woven throughout scripture. Each week the traditional Advent themes of hope, love, joy, and peace will be paired with a word or phrase related to home. The first Sunday of Advent is almost always during Thanksgiving weekend. This year is no different, and after nearly 2 years of pandemic restrictions the themes of homesick and hope take on new meaning. I think we are all a little bit homesick for a world free of pandemic and hopeful for a more peaceful and kind world. The chaos, heartache, and division that seems so ever present in our world isn’t unlike the world that Jesus was born into all those years ago. They too, were homesick for a world that was different and hoped that somehow things would change. Let’s journey towards the manger together and see what we discover.
As we journey together, we are mindful of those around us who are struggling to find a home or to call their current dwelling place home because it is unsafe. Each week there will be an opportunity to give to a different organization that is helping others find home and make it their own.
November 28 – North Raleigh Ministries
Just down the street from Greystone, North Raleigh Ministries offers curbside grocery assistance to neighbors in need of food including fresh produce, meat, pantry staples, baked goods and hygiene products. There are many reasons that bring people to NRM in need of food and assistance. Homesick doesn’t always mean longing to return to a physical place. Sometimes, homesick is longing for our home to return or to finally be what we desire most in our hearts. Our offerings of comfort foods for NRM may be just what one of our Homesick neighbors needs this holiday season.
December 5 – Hope Center
An independent non-profit currently housed at Pullen Memorial, Hope Center empowers emerging adults who are transitioning out of foster care in Wake County with the support and connections needed for a safe and stable adulthood. Through our monetary offering we can help Lay the Foundation for a young adult by providing the funds needed for a security deposit on their first apartment.
December 12 – Oak City Cares
Oak City Cares is a public-private partnership that exists to support the self-determination of our neighbors experiencing homelessness through trusting relationships and connections to coordinated services that increase their ability to be safely and stably housed. Through our offering of items that provide warmth, we not only recognize that not all homes have four walls and a roof, but we also help these individuals know that they are loved and cared for. Oak City Cares is truly working towards ensuring that there really is a Home for All here in Raleigh.
December 19 – InterAct of Wake County
InterAct is a shelter and support system for victims of domestic violence and abuse in Wake County. InterAct saves lives, rebuilds lives, and secures safer futures for victims and survivors and their families. Our offerings of items for the moms and babies they serve will help those Seeking Sanctuary find safe and secure temporary homes as they begin to heal and rebuild their lives.
December 24 – Together For Hope
Since our beginning, Greystone has traditionally collected a special offering on Christmas Eve for missions. This year, our recipient is Together for Hope, a CBF missions initiative that serves the poorest counties in our nation, six of them being here in NC. Focusing on rural development and Asset Based Community Development, Together for Hope helps rebuild and strengthen communities from within in an effort to end endemic poverty. Through our monetary offerings the field personnel and their community partners will work together to make sure that all are Invited Home.
December 26 – Healthcare Workers at WakeMed
Throughout the last 22 months our healthcare workers have worked tirelessly to respond to the Covid pandemic. They have spent countless hours away from family pulling extra shifts to treat the sick and quarantining to keep their own families safe. On this day, the Sunday after Christmas, our Greystone family traditionally gathers for donuts & coffee. Instead, our offering will go to provide the same for these healthcare workers. The gift cards collected will be distributed at WakeMed in an effort to say thank you, spread some Christmas cheer and as a prayer that these workers are able to stay Close to Home this Christmas.
January 2 – Welcome House
Over the last few months, Welcome House has been busier than ever welcoming refugees not only here in Raleigh but across North Carolina. Greeting new refugees with friendly faces, warm hugs, a place to sleep and a warm meal upon arrival is only the beginning of the work being done by Welcome House. Across NC, apartments and houses are being transformed into homes for our newest neighbors. The cleaning products and paper goods that we collect will help fill welcome baskets as our friends begin a new life here in their Chosen Home.
January 9 – Epiphany Gift Exchange
On this day we will exchange ‘Gifts for the Journey’. As the Wisemen made their return journey Home By Another Way, their gifts were being treasured by a young family fleeing persecution and danger. As Joseph, Mary, and Jesus made their way to Egypt, I wonder if the gifts from the Wisemen reminded them that they were not alone, that they had friends praying for them and loving them from afar. Today we will share gifts with one another with this in mind, reminders that none of us are alone in this journey. We are a family, and we are on this journey together.
We hope that you will find one or two ways to join us in this season of giving as we seek to make home a little sweeter for those around us.