21 September 2017

“…and finally . ”

raAs Christmas approaches, many of us will start writing extensive lists: those for whom we have to buy presents; food that needs to be bought or prepared; guests to invite to various events and celebrations and decorations to make or to bring down from the attic. It can cause a great deal of stress, anxiety and tension in families and marriages, not to mention the concern of whether we can afford it, or how we will repay the debt later on.

Why do we allow this to happen? Maybe it is because our priorities are wrong. We are celebrating the most humble event in history, when God became a baby, born in the poorest conditions, to live with us and to save us from the self destruction of the lives we were living, in order for us to discover true Life in Him.

As Jesus grew up, He cared, not for the wealthy, important and famous in the community, but for the poor, the outcast and the down-trodden. He showed us the joy we could know if we left our old lives behind, in order to follow Him. Perhaps we can follow His example this Christmas; instead of indulging ourselves, why don’t we look around us and do something to help and encourage the needy, the lonely and the lost.

As my children grew up, we made a collective decision as a family, not to give presents to each other, but instead to give the money we would have spent to charities. It gave us far more pleasure to simply receive a fun present, costing no more than £10, from one member of the family, name drawn from a hat! Our present opening times from then on have been hilarious and filled with creative fun! 

There is a saying that there is a huge difference between our wants and our needs! How true!

So why not think this year about giving a present to someone who would not be expecting it? We don’t have to wait till Christmas Day to give them and they don’t have to cost us anything but time.

Here are some ideas:

Contact a forgotten friend.

Make or bake something for someone who is a carer or housebound.

Speak words of kindness and encouragement to the person at the supermarket checkout, or who cleans the toilets at a service station.

Apologise to, or forgive someone.

Spend time with someone who is lonely, and maybe plan an afternoon out with them.

Write a letter to someone to tell them you love them.

Offer to babysit for a weary mother.

Listen to a friend’s problems.

Spend time with the family with the TV, mobiles and computers OFF!

Invite a neighbour in for a coffee.

Giving one of these gifts will do as much for you as it will for the receiver of your kindness. It is also something that might encourage us to think of giving these gifts, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.

May God give YOU His gift of JOY this Christmas!

WORDS Fiona Castle