Rather than lamenting the trends of society, and complaining about the secularization of Jesus’ birth, let’s resolve to do something positive.

Let our preparation focus first on prayer – a prayer of hope and anticipation for God’s coming among us. Pray for reconciliation and an end to greed.

Let us then also sacrifice for those in need.

This Advent we will put out a donation basket. Our contributions will be used toward the purchase of a well for people in need of fresh water through Operation Christmas Child/Samaritan’s Purse. Women and children in developing countries usually walk miles to reach the nearest water source—which might be a stagnant pond or polluted stream. Samaritan’s Purse is working to solve this problem by building and repairing hundreds of wells, along with providing pumps and other equipment, across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Costs range from $400 for a hand-dug well serving a few families to $10,000 for a deep-drilled well serving an entire community.

We will also be collecting food, gloves, and hats for those in need in our immediate community. Canned, dried, and non-perishable foods, as well mittens, gloves, and hats are all needed. The latest U.S. census figures show an alarming statistic — 50.8 percent of Schenectady’s children live below the poverty line. For a family of four, that means a yearly income of less than $22,350. That number, provided as part of the 2011 American Community Survey, puts Schenectady 13th in the nation for highest childhood poverty rate among cities over 65,000 in population.

God bless you for your generosity and sacrifice in preparation for Jesus’ coming.