Welcome to the December and January edition of the Hobnob. Thank you, so much, to those who kindly donated a Christmas Shoebox to Operation Christmas Child this year. We received over 90 shoeboxes which we collected at our United Benefice Service in November. It was a great community effort, including churches, schools, the uniformed organisations and The Whitecroft Residential Care Home, to name a few, and I am sure your generous gifts will be greatly appreciated by those who receive them.
As I write this, a group of us from Christian Churches in Thurrock have been meeting, and are in the process of setting up a means of providing meals on Friday and/or Saturday afternoons for homeless people, at a church in Thurrock. If anyone feels able to be part of this project, either on a regular or occasional basis, then please do let me know.
And, as we approach Christmas we, indeed, remember that Jesus began his life as a refugee, born in very basic conditions. It’s tempting, isn’t it, in the warm candle glow of Christmas services, to romanticise the birth of Jesus, but we also need to remember that we worship a Saviour, the incarnation of God, on earth, who knows, only too well, the reality of being fully human, and all that this entails, including both the good and bad, the joys and the struggles. Jesus loves each one of us deeply and longs to be part of our lives today, both individually and corporately and this includes being with us in the mess we often find ourselves.
As we reflect upon Jesus and the purpose for which he came to be born among us, or, as some might put it ‘the reason for the season,’ perhaps, this year, in our domestic preparations, it might be time to step out of the pattern of familiarity and do something slightly differently in order to share the love of Jesus with others.
There is, in fact, a Christian book called ‘Doing December Differently: An alternative Christmas Handbook.’ Sometimes, when we step out of the mould, we can experience Jesus in a profound new way.
Here are some of the suggestions in the book:
- With family and friends, agree on a limit to what you are going to spend. Send the rest to charity.
- Buy your gifts from charities.
- Give a goat etc.
- Give fair trade goods.
- Make your own Christmas cards.
- Recycle last year’s Christmas Cards.
- Send a Christmas card to a prisoner of conscience or human rights defender. See for further details.
These are just a few ideas, but to finish with – a few words by Jo Jones, a former Christian Aid worker:
I heard a story about a woman who asked all her friends to send her a candle for Christmas and the money they would have spent on presents to charity. She then had a room full of candles reflecting the love of friends and family – and the knowledge that money had gone to those much more in need.
I look forward to seeing you at Church over the Christmas period and wish you a joyous and peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year.
With love and prayers for you all,