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Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.

This phrase starts a song that carollers in my home town sang every Advent. I’ve never eaten a goose on Christmas! My family has tended to eat turkey or ham.

Often I think of Christmas as a time when I’m the goose, getting bigger.

Some people will be dreading the arrival of Christmas this year as the economic crisis continues, and there will be less wrapped gifts to share with loved ones. Young children will be looking forward to getting gifts (as will adults), that may be hard to come by, or by buying them, it may worsen a family’s debt. How do we show our love?

“Please put a penny in the old man's hat.”

In this carol, it reminds us to give at Christmas, if we can, but not a necessarily a large

amount. God’s gave us the best gift in the form of Jesus Christ.

God became human in a manger, in very humble circumstances. The gift probably wasn’t much to look at, but heaven erupted in joy. We can give our most precious gifts as well, our time and our compassion, for each other and ourselves.

These gifts last far longer and bring greater joy. When I was a child I received a bicycle that I wanted, but I did not receive it in love, and I hated it because I’d rather have received love from my family.

“If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do

If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!”

While the world tries to get us to buy big and expensive things, and make us feel like

we have to show our love with posh items, Jesus taught us that being rich with things

causes us to lose sight of what is most important, which is a long loving relationship

with Him and each other (Luke 18:24-9). Instead of worrying about the past or the

future, we should live in the present, grateful for the love of God and others.

Maya Angelou said,

If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully.

Give this present to yourself and others this Advent and Christmas season, the gift of

a loving, grateful heart. Lower the expectations for extravagance, unless it’s

extravagant grace.

Don’t lose sight of the grace of Jesus Christ in the decorations

and hustle and bustle of the season. Just spending time with loved ones and

showing compassion is what the season is all about.

One way to show compassion (a ha’penny will do) is to use a reverse advent

calendar. While advent calendars are a much-loved tradition in the run up to

Christmas, a reverse advent calendar can be very helpful during this cost-of-living


Starting on 1 December you can count down the days to Christmas, by giving

an item each day to the Bridge Foodbank or charity of your choice. Instead of

opening a picture to receive a chocolate, you can add an item to a large decorated

box or place on a donation shelf. If it is seen by visitors, perhaps it will spur

conversation on the importance of sharing the love of Christ with others.

The reverse advent calendar can be a great way to start teaching young children and

others about social responsibility and the joy of giving. It is best to choose nonperishable

items with a long use-by date, personal care items and even toys are

usually welcome.

Be present to others, by being a grateful and compassionate present, as you spend

time with people, and help them when you can.

Jesus’ birth changed everything, and still does via God’s grace and love acting

through us.

And God bless you!



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