Christmas and Giving
– What does this mean for your church?
Christmas is traditionally a time for giving, be that presents, love, joy, food and hospitality.
In my mind, Jesus coming to earth as a baby is the greatest gift of all. God gave us Jesus for our salvation, in eternity. We open our Christmas presents just the same. We have to open the gift of Jesus Christ by believing in him and accepting him in order to have the blessings of the present.
On a different level, it is good for us to understand the blessing and benefits to us of being generous and giving at Christmas is a good time to do so. Jesus says in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down and running over. It will be provided into your lap”. St Francis of Assisi put it this way, “for it is in giving that we receive”.
Some people’s view of Church is that it is always asking for money. It does not have a strong reputation for giving. Perhaps these two ideas may help the churches to see what they can do to give away something of value to the community around them.
One idea is The Noise, run by St Andrew’s in High Wycombe. A few times a year, they open up and give away tea and cake (and hot dogs for lunch!) all day. They have places for children to play, do face painting, and psalm reading (people have their ‘psalm’ read and they find it deeply moving). In addition, they take on one or two major projects, like painting the downstairs of a house or clearing a jungle garden. Loads of people come through the door. In time, many people find a listening ear and share their problems, and their lives get turned around, especially when they come to know Jesus.
Another example is Greyfriars Church, Reading. On certain Saturday mornings, people from the church ask passers-by, on the pavement, if they would like the church (or the members) to pray for anything in particular for them. Some people say ‘No, thank you’ but the vast majority are only too glad to share and issue that they would like a prayer for there and then. It is part of the healing on the streets model. People are so blessed, and many are healed.
As an adult, Jesus’s ministry was predominantly praying for people, healing the sick, and driving out demons. In three years, he established the global transformation of spirituality, Christianity.
Perhaps it’s time for churches to give away what they have, and can share. That is the blessing of God and the power of God, and the love of Jesus. Born for us on Christmas day.