We all have our Christmas moment. That bit when we start to feel ‘Christmassy’, y’know? For me there are a few: there’s decorating the tree with our children (which seems to be happening earlier every year); then there’s watching the Muppets Christmas Carol on DVD and then there’s the start of the Christmas services in church.
We’re blessed at St Mark’s to have several schools visit with their choirs, musicians, and actors to re-tell the Christmas story as we learn together what it might mean. All this culminates in a Christingle and Nativity service at 4pm on Christmas Eve. Christingle is a service where a decorated orange – representing God’s love for the world – is used to tell the Christmas story.
This is a real highlight – children arrive as shepherds, angels and wise men and women and we re-tell the Christmas story gathering at the end in a circle of candle-light to sing ‘Away in a Manger’. A church near you will be doing something similar and you can find out on achurchnearyou.com.
But the story isn’t the story unless it means something in the way we live our lives. This is why so many churches and other voluntary groups are offering meals for people who would otherwise eat alone or go hungry – like the Salvation Army or the Beacon Centre. And it’s why we make sure that in the colder months we do our best to make sure no one sleeps outside in the cold, as increasing numbers seem to.
This year Mansfield Baptist Church are teaming up with the district council, Transforming Notts Together, Stonham House and local churches to make sure our homeless neighbours are given a place to stay. The story of a homeless baby, born in a stable inspires us and reminds us that homelessness could happen to anyone.
For me it’s a time when I take a hard look at my attitude towards stuff. Try as I might to become less acquisitive, every year I seem to end up with even more stuff that I thought I needed but really don’t. Some of it is stuff I’ve used once and probably could have borrowed: like the wallpapering table; then there are electronic gadgets that I bought by mistake and never got around to taking back.
I look at some of the clutter in my house and think, “I bet someone else could make good use of that. But who?”
This is why “Street Life” is such a great idea. Street Life is an online local community of stuff-swappers and a hub for community action! All you have to do is register a few details on the website streetlife.com and then start listing stuff you want to lend or give away. It’s like opening up your loft, garage, or spare room but from the safety of your own computer. streetlife.com allows us to share when otherwise we would be spending.
Most people see Christmas as a time for sharing. We share with our family and friends, colleagues and members of our clubs, churches, mosques or other groups. But in an increasingly lonely society, perhaps we can reach out and share beyond those made-up boundaries and share belongings and mealtimes with strangers too.