God’s Presents; God’s Presence
Recycle Reuse Re-gift Restore Receive Rejoice Reach out
“Too much of the focus of Christmas these days is based on commercialism and excess” said Reverend David Major, Priest in Charge at St John’s in December 2015 in the church’s Christmas bulletin.
Inspired by the success of redistributing one family’s donated goods a couple of years ago to families in need in the local community, on Thursday 10 December Trentham parish hosted a “God’s Present” evening, where folk from our congregations and their friends, were invited to donate suitable gifts; and folk from our church and community were invited to come and “shop” for free, for Christmas presents for themselves, their families and friends, with a focus on redistributing wealth and surplus to those in need.
Invitations were also given to particular focus groups where families in need congregate with a challenge that they avoid the spending trap this Christmas and to put time into relationships ad sharing love.
The parish hall was submerged in items of various kinds, and “shoppers” were given a large plastic “goodie bag” in which to place their shopping. Lots were drawn for items that were popular or expensive to see who would get to take them home. In one case, a person who could not attend due to work commitments was able to shop using photos sent by phone, and a friend collected the items for them. Some tables were provided where gifts could be wrapped; wrapping paper and tape were provided to create a further opportunity to build fellowship and relationships between “customers” and parishioners.
Supper was provided by parishioners and the evening was a great success for all. This is one way in which our parish can reach out to its community to make contact with the last, the lost, and the least. We expect this ministry to grow as word gets around, and relationships build, so that next year it will be even better.
It was really hard for some people to accept that they could shop for free. Next week we plan to put all the goods left over again for another round. One young lad able to ‘shop’ for his friends and family had claimed a remote car for himself. When I suggested he wrap it up and put his name on it for Christmas his reply was, “No, I want to take it to school tomorrow for news.”
What a way to share the good news of Christ with those who look at the church with suspicion.