As we approached this season, the team at Third Space Ministries reflected on three advent themes that have been relevant to our work this year. They are:
Finding gold in unexpected places
Purposeful gift giving
There are many challenges facing our world this Christmas, and the hope of the divine incarnate meeting us where we are, bringing peace and breakthrough, is as poignant as ever. Just like us, the characters in the Christmas story we know so well, faced real human problems with real human emotions. With the benefit of hindsight we can learn from the ways that they welcomed God’s love in their midst, even when they were afraid, bewildered or the road ahead was uncertain. When our chaplains go into third spaces, they go prayerfully, waiting for God to show the way and open doors. They look for ways to show the people they meet how precious they are, through time, a listening ear, and prayer. And through conversation and care, they get to help people see their value in the heart of a God who loves them unconditionally.
Finding gold in unexpected places:
“As a sports chaplain I have the privilege of serving at major sporting events. As I served at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year, I was reminded once again of the very real and deep needs of many in the world of sport. Often, athletes come and ask for prayer before competing, understandably wanting to leave with success, a medal, a personal best. A natural desire after years of hard work. Our prayer for them is that they will also discover that the gold they are seeking is not a medal around their neck but a freedom to embrace their identity, a contentment in who God has made them to be, and ultimately a peace and security with Him. The gold is not always what it seems to be. It has been a privilege to see those in the sporting world discover a worth that is more than gold.”
Watching and waiting with expectation:
“Prayer has always been a key element to the DJ Ministry work and this year we organised regular monthly prayer evenings, a Night of Prayer for the Nightlife and a prayer walk around major London clubbing institutions. For the latter event, a small team from the DJ Unity group spent a Saturday visiting clubs, record labels and live music venues across London to pray, wait and listen to the Holy Spirit. Together we prayed for God’s will to be done in these secular establishments and asked for open doors for the Gospel. Outside one particular venue, the team felt moved to prophesy access for two individuals from the DJ Unity community. At another venue, a word came that God would release joy inside the club. We concluded the day by worshipping together in the street outside the Ministry of Sound. As we finished, we looked up and saw a sign above us that simply said “Nothing sounds quite like it…!
Within weeks, the two members of the community were invited to play inside the very venue that God had spoken to the team about. They made some important connections with industry figures, were able to pray inside the venue and use the opportunity to declare the goodness of God through their music. Another DJ who is supported by Soundcheck chaplaincy work, was booked to play at the club where the word about joy had been given. Without knowing what had been said that day, they reported back there had been a huge atmosphere shift within the venue whilst they played and a tangible sense of the presence and joy of God”
Purposeful gift giving:
“It is such a privilege to support the beautiful women in the clubs – to encourage and empower them, and to bring something different and joyful into their evening. When I first started going into the clubs, I asked God, “What do I have to bring these women besides food? There must be more that I can bring them.” I was thinking of material things, but I felt the Lord said to carry joy and peace into these places. To be a carrier and giver of these things is an even greater gift.
Over this year, we have been taking snacks and treats into the clubs each time we visit. Sometimes we make something that is authentic to one of the prominent cultures in the clubs – a snack from their country to bring that comfort of home. But something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed is having simple conversations with the women, learning when their birthdays are approaching and then in the days before, bringing a special gift for them to the club. Often they are so shocked by the simple fact that someone remembered their birthday. Sometimes, we brought entire meals into the clubs. As we handed out the bowls of food, one of the women said, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a homemade meal like this before!” She was so touched by the simple gift of time and energy spent to make her a meal from scratch. We sat with them on the floor of the dressing room eating and chatting together and I couldn’t help but feel like this was such a beautiful way to share God’s love”
It has been our privilege this year for God to use us as we show up each week in third spaces. As we offer prayer, care and a listening ear, people have shared their lives, experienced breakthroughs and had God encounters of their own.
As you navigate this Advent period and Christmas time, may you know the presence of Jesus in all you are facing. May you be surprised by His comfort and hope in the waiting, and may you find gold in unexpected places, in others, and in yourself.