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Alan Brown is a long-term volunteer for Habitat, from travelling on Global Village teams, volunteering on local sites or in ReStore. This Advent, Alan discusses the fast pace of Christmas, and the importance of slowing down to enjoy the season, and each other.

The Christmas journey seems to start earlier each year. Christmas menus, Tubs of Chocolates appear in August inviting entry unto the Christmas motorway. Then, before you know it Christmas, is just around the corner and there is still so much to do. Motorways are designed to get us to our destination at speed.

However, when travelling at speed we miss the detail. The villages and most importantly the people. It is only when we turn off the motorway, slow down and stop that we can walk. Walk alongside other people and share our stories.

I have been privileged to visit many countries with Habitat for Humanity NI. Every time the journey slows to walking pace, to hear the story of homeowners changing poverty from numbers to experiences, impersonal to realty.

Advent is a time of expectation and preparation for the arrival of Christ. Jesus’s journey on earth was entirely at walking pace. To share the human experience “The Word became flesh”. And in sharing that experience He was moved to tears. The experience of Habitat for Humanity homeowners is no motorway to completion. The journey is slow with many hours of sweat equity.

Travelling with Habitat for Humanity NI is experienced at walking pace. Time to be moved by the stories of people who have never had the opportunity to share. It is an emotional experience. Just ask the many young people who travel every year on the Youth Build programme. But that emotion drives us to action.  To walk alongside humanity, raising each other up. That is the heart of Habitat for Humanity.


Lord, during this time of Advent, help us to find the sliproad, to take time to walk alongside friends and family and consider those who continue to live in inadequate housing. Stir us all to continue our own journey with eyes to see as You see.

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Read more Advent reflections here.

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