A Servant Heart for the Holidays: Christmas and nondenominational Christians


We’re just broken people helping broken people,” says Nathan Hobbs.

   For seven years, Nathan and his wife, Maddy Hobbs, have been attending Genesis Project Provo, a nondenominational Christian church focused on celebrating God’s grace, lifting the community and accepting all who walk through their doors. “Come as you are” is the church’s resounding message and Maddy’s personal mantra — the phrase is in cursive letters on the welcome mat at the Hobbs’ front door.

   Though the Hobbs live in Bluffdale, they consider Provo their second home because that is where their church family is found.

   At Genesis Project Provo, and to God, all are loved the same. They show this love year round, but especially at Christmas.

   “Christmas is like a big celebration of Jesus,” Maddy says, smiling. “It’s about the birth of Jesus and just who He is. We remember the crucifixion and that He died for us — that’s how we have been saved.”

   Nathan and Maddy help with the youth at their church, which includes taking phone calls from the kids when they need someone to talk to, even if it’s at 10 p.m.

   “We answer because they often don’t have anybody else,” Maddy says.

   The church’s pastor, Justin Banks, says Nathan and Maddy pour out their hearts to troubled youth.

   “Our church is service-oriented,” Nathan says. “Christmas is about Jesus, and it’s a time to help people.”

   Maddy adds that being part of the church helps increase her desire to serve.

   “It’s nice when you take some time to serve each other or when you’re served,” she says. “Service all around!”

   During the winter, Genesis Project Provo’s calendar is full of volunteer opportunities. Most years, the “cookie train” is implemented to create “thank you” goodie bags for essential workers at police departments, hospitals and retirement homes.

   Every year, without fail, they assemble care kits for the homeless.

   “We ask for donations of anything warm for the homeless throughout the winter season: scarves, hats, gloves, sweaters, sleeping bags,” Maddy says. “Sadly, people have literally frozen to death by our church, and we want to help them.”

   These kits also include hygiene products, tarps and any basics the homeless may need while on the street in harsh weather.

   “It’s really about letting them know somebody does care about them and they are valued,” Pastor Justin says. “Homeless people are part of our family, and we make sure they feel that.”

   Starting around Christmas and lasting until the cold months are over, two church members spend the two coldest nights each week at the church, hosting all-nighter “movie nights” for their homeless friends.

   “We call them movie nights because we can’t shelter people. So we have them come in and watch movies, but really, they sleep,” Maddy says.

   Along with giving their time and love to others, Nathan and Maddy make sure they are sharing with family as well. While the couple alternates being with each of their families during Christmas Day, they reserve Christmas Eve and Christmas morning for quality time between the two of them. They live in a cozy, modern condo with their two corgis — Miso and Mochi. Last year was their first Christmas in a home they own. Nathan says it was special celebrating in a place truly theirs. Maddy had fun decking their halls in a festive, Hallmark style. Their favorite way to snuggle into Christmas is with mugs of hot chocolate and predictable Hallmark movies.

   Since they’ve been married, the Bible app has been a staple in their worship. As December hits, they’ll follow Christmas study plans on the app to help make Christ the focus of the season.

   Worship service at their church on Christmas Eve turns the birth of Jesus into something palpable.

   “The actual Christmas Eve service is a special moment because it’s very intimate,” Nathan says.

   Lights go off, candles for each person are lit, and songs glorify God as they all praise that momentous, holy night.

   During that worship, Maddy comes to realize, “We really are one. We have more in common than we think we do and we’re all experiencing God’s grace.”

   This idea of being unified motivates how they serve during the season and all year-round. They believe that each shared act of love is ultimately a service to God.

   Nathan and Maddy say that as these holiday elements combine, the consumerism of the holiday fades away and the true meaning of the season settles on their hearts — this is joy. This is Christ. This is Christmas.


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