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Spiritual Matters

Give some love to our community

December 29, 2010 - Did you know that Americans spend over $400 billion a year on Christmas?

The average shopper will spend $658 for gifts this year. One in four Christians say that Christmas cripples their budget. One in three Americans lives with extreme stress that worsens during the holidays.

I just finished a Christmas Series at my church called GIVE THIS CHRISTMAS AWAY.

The main idea was to change how we do Christmas. Instead of rushing around, stressing out, spending money we don't have –let's simplify!

Let's make Christmas a time when we slow down, focus on relationships, and give to those who really need it.

Do we really have to buy 37 gifts for each one of us? Do we really have to go into debt every Christmas, and then get depressed every January, wondering how we're going to pay the bills? What is the real point of Christmas, anyway? After all, it's Jesus' birthday! How does Jesus want us to celebrate Christmas?

In one of my messages I encouraged our congregation to GIVE LOVE TO OUR COMMUNITY. I gave them ten ideas.

Here are just a few of them:

Decorate a Christmas tree to give to a needy family. Our church got fifty Christmas trees, and then families in our church bought decorations, and we gave the trees away.

Buy a Christmas gift for a needy family through Angel Tree. We hung up little paper angel decorations on a tree at our church, with instructions on how to buy some gifts for needy families. People would take an angel off the tree and buy the gifts written on it. We helped 250 needy families this way.

These are just two examples of how we "gave some love to our community."

Some families spontaneously paid for someone's dinner at a restaurant. Many gave blood at our Blood Drive.

It might be as simple as holding the door and smiling at someone.

The point is this: Christmas is about God so loving the world that he gave his Son to die for us.

Love gives. And God calls us to love –which means that we need to be givers.

I encourage you this Christmas season, go ahead and enjoy your family and swap a few gifts.

But think about maybe cutting back a bit. Maybe you could spend a little less on yourself and a little more on those who really need it.

After all, isn't that what Christmas is really about?

The Rev. Greg Henneman is pastor of Clarkston Community Church.

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