Staff Writer – Carol Cato

Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

The above verse sums up why we celebrate Christmas.  It’s a day to reflect on all that He has done for us throughout the year.  This is the day His name should be glorified, and give Him praise.

Christmas has become so commercialised that I feel we have lost the true meaning. Christmas should be about the birth of the Saviour of the world in Bethlehem; a time when bells are played to ring out the joyous news; candles are lit to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4-9); a star is placed on the top of a Christmas tree to remember the Star of Bethlehem, and gifts are exchanged to remind us of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus and for the Son of God – greatest gift to mankind.

We associate Christmas with getting together with family and friends– we enjoy celebrating, feasting and receiving presents, but it’s not only about giving each other gifts, it’s showing our gratitude to our Heavenly Father though worshipping Him for giving us the gift of His son  and by being conscious of the poor and less fortunate around us.

Christmas can also be a time of deep sadness for a lot of people; there are many homeless people with no-one to turn to.  Have you thought of spending time over Christmas to help at a homeless shelter or give company to an elderly neighbour?  We are called to help the poor and needy, in both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s desire for His children to show compassion to the poor. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us (Matthew 26:11). He also said that those who show mercy to the poor, the sick and the needy are in effect ministering to Him personally (Matthew 25:35-40) and will be rewarded accordingly.

However, do not give with a wrong heart as God, sees the heart, and we should guard against being boastful about what we do for others.  In( Matthew 6:1-4) “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret, will reward you.”

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Another group of people who are often forgotten are our single friends, men especially.  There is a high suicide rate at this time of the year among men in particular.  They can be overlooked because their needs are not as obvious as the elderly or the sick, but they too can be lonely and in need of support.  If you have a friend who is single, ask them what they’re doing over the holidays, and invite them to spend time with you and your family.  You’ll be surprise how many people are waiting to be asked, but are cautious about appearing to be intruding on other people’s lives.

Many years ago I worked on a phone line during Christmas for a TV company, I realised then, the amount of lonely people there are.  The TV Company advertised the phone line as a place people can get information on services that may be closed during the Christmas period, anything from locating the nearest pharmacy to finding someone to repair a cooker.  However, 8 out of 10 calls I received would be from people just wanting to talk to someone – they were not old, disabled or homeless just lonely.  Sometime during the conversation, if I asked if they were visiting family for the holidays I could hear the sadness in their voices and could tell that things were not right.  At that point I’d pass the call to someone better qualified to deal with the situation.

We’ve all been conditioned to associate the act of giving with presents, but one of the most valuable gifts we can give to someone is our time and our ability to listen. Loneliness strikes everyone. Spending time with a friend or relative during the Christmas holidays, over lunch or a cup of coffee can do good for both people. To show someone you care about them is a priceless way of focusing on others.

We probably all know someone who claims they don’t celebrate Christmas, are we sure that it isn’t because they don’t have anyone to celebrate it with?  New Year’s Eve is another high risk day; call on someone during the holidays, you may just save a life!

Before ending my Blog, I’d like to wish you all God’s blessing in the coming year and before the year is out please take time to thank  Him for all he has done for you.  Most of all thank Him that you’re alive, not everyone will be seeing in 2013.

Remember, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35, NIV)