Last week it was my great privilege to be a guest at the Hailsham Rotary Club Christmas dinner. I was asked to give a Christmas message, which I duly did to the packed hall of Rotarians and guests. It was a lovely affair with special representation from the local Samaritans group and a display by the world champion Zoe Pennington Dancers.
Both local organisations had benefitted from the enormous all year round charity work of the Rotary Club. The dance studios cater for children of all ages and it was a varied and multi-age display we were presented with. It was clear talking to the children how they benefitted in confidence and life skills as they enjoyed their performing. The Samaritans provide a vital link to so many desperate people. Demand for their services has been steadily increasing with the general rising of stress levels in society. These days, as well as the free telephone number of 116 123 they are soon to expand into online and texting services.
It is so apparent at this time of the year just how many charities there are around, and so many of them launch special appeals for Christmas. It is a natural time of the year to appeal for funds as Christmas is still a time of open hearted generosity. It’s the time Christians celebrate God’s amazing generosity in sending his son, Jesus to show us the way. God’s generosity ignites a spark in the human heart which encourages people to open their wallets to charitable causes. And the two messages can be combined such as the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution’s Carol Service in Hailsham Cattle Market on Friday December 4 at 7.30pm at which I shall be speaking. It celebrates Jesus’ birth and helps raise funds for a charity that helps those struggling in the farming industry.
In an ideal world the same spirit that encourages thoughts of love, kindness and generosity at Christmas would be evident all year round, but sadly it isn’t so. Come Boxing Day and the cut and thrust world of commerce and the January Sales kicks in.
Someone remarked to me the other day how business meetings are always so much more nicer affairs around Christmas time, with more allowance being given to people, but which is not there all the rest of the year. Living in the real world we as a church are no different and this year our Christmas Appeal is for the Serving Africa Mission with a base in Ghana. All the Christmas appeals will give enormous help to charities, so be generous. But wouldn’t it be marvellous if we could learn to have that Christmas Spirit the whole year round, even when it’s not Christmas!