Without question, this will be a hard Christmas for many neighbors, near and far.
Unemployment nationwide is still above 9 percent. The Boston Globe just this morning carried a front page article on the steep increase in requests for help from food pantries and fuel assistance. The pantry here in Burlington served 131 families in October, a new high.
Meanwhile, the big Christmas retail push began even before Halloween this year. Many of us know that we want our celebrations to reflect a spirit of giving much more in keeping with God’s gracious gift of life, his own Son, Jesus.
This is a very good year, then, for you and your family to continue or to begin an emphasis on Christmas as a time for giving to others.
We are hoping that our church’s opportunities for the season will help you shape this commitment. The Advent Family Event (open to all!) on December 12 will be an opportunity for fellowship and bringing cookies to package as gifts for diners at The Dwelling Place the following Wednesday (and you are always welcome to come and help serve there). You can consider signing up for one of the shifts at The Wish Tree at the mall (another good experience for children, too). Our annual caroling expedition, planned for December 19, offers another sort of giving opportunity.
You might also consider a personal, or family, gift to an organization that cares for people or the earth. People Helping People in Burlington is one. Heifer Project is another (catalogues available in our church library).
Much closer to home, maybe there is a neighbor who could simply use some help with snow shoveling, or a plate of cookies…
Whatever “gifts of the season” we may choose to share, the focus is not on our own goodness, but on the love of God. Jesus came into the world at a hard time, and in the most humble way, as the gift of life in its fullness for all people.
Let our hearts receive this as the greatest gift we can have this Christmas.
Peace and joy,