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Gerardine & Paul Hughes both volunteer in Habitat ReStore Lisburn, support their local community. Read their Advent reflection below:

Paul has been volunteering at ReStore Lisburn for a while now and a few weeks ago he informed me he had “offered my services” too. I laughed out loud but I soon realised that he was serious. And so began my journey as a volunteer!

I was a little anxious but the other volunteers welcomed me warmly, although there were times when I’m sure I tried the patience of Job (or rather Joan, the poor volunteer who had the misfortune of training me!)  I see that same welcome extended to all who cross the threshold of Habitat’s ReStore premises.  God’s love in action in the simplest of tasks!  As Mother Teresa said “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love”.

When I hear uplifting and challenging reports from volunteers on outreach projects, I question if my few hours make much of a difference but then I recall the words spoken at the funeral of Archbishop Oscar Romero which are always both encouraging and humbling:

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view......
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete...
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith...No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.....
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own”.

So as Paul and I dust off our Advent Wreath this year and light the first candle we will bring all our Habitat for Humanity family to the Infant King, those who volunteer far afield and those locally, as we pray:

Lord Jesus, in this world of war, famine, poverty and greed we ask you to help us be instruments of your love, to radiate the Light of the Bethlehem Star and that our home may be a living Bethlehem.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him…” – John 1:9-10. Amen

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