Christmas: It’s the most generous time of the year

Generosity is a beautiful thing.

And at Christmas, generosity shines brightly in the Creston Valley. Over the last few weeks, I’ve enjoyed a front-row seat to the stunning heart of my community as gifts were given, money was donated, time was offered and energy was expended, all in the name of sharing the joy of Christmas. Through the Creston Valley Ministerial Association Christmas Hamper program, over 400 families received a joyful boost of Christmas cheer–all of it bubbling up and overflowing from the generous hearts and hands of Creston’s amazing people, churches and businesses. And that’s not all–numerous other programs also received incredible generosity this time of year, alleviating burdens and elevating joy during a season that can be very difficult for many.

Wrapping gifts and offering soup — it’s all part of the Christmas Hamper tradition!

Seeing this generosity makes me thankful to be here, to be a member of this community and a pastor in this great valley. In a corner of the world known for its abundance, its people abundantly share.

At Christmas, generosity flows. Some might say it’s just a seasonal thing, when hearts are warmer than normal, or perhaps have grown a size or two throughout the year. Perhaps there’s something in the air during this time of little light, something that makes us want to give back–we who have received so much.

Young and old, everyone gets involved in spreading Christmas joy!

But I also think generosity comes more easily during a season when we celebrate the greatest act of generosity the world has ever known: when the Father sent his Son to make the world right again, overturning darkness with the dawning of light. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”–not because he had to or was forced to or didn’t have any other choice, but because the Father, in his generous love, is a Giver, giving. Whether fully acknowledged or not, Christmas time is a celebration of the ultimate gift given, from the most generous being ever.

“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.” And into the world of darkness, generosity shone. And it continues to shine, year after year, day after day, season through cycling season.

An amazing army of ready volunteers fill the hampers each year.

So thank you, Creston. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for being people of abundance who share abundantly. And thank you for giving in a way that reflects the generosity of our Creator and our Giver. Christmas is a most generous time of year–may you both give generously and receive generosity in the true spirit of Christmas this year, and may we all know the ultimate gift given, on that silent night, for the peace of this world and the good of all humankind.

 

4 Reasons I Love Praying at Town Council Meetings (and 4 guidelines I follow when I do)

This may come as a surprise to you, but later today I’ll be opening our Creston Town Council in prayer. I, along with fellow Creston Valley ministerial members, take turns doing this for our dedicated public servants, and it’s an honor.

Whenever I pray at council, I follow four guidelines.

  1. I assume a diverse audience. Respecting people present who either do not pray or hail from different religious traditions, I do not ask anyone to “join me in prayer”  or “bow their heads.” Rather, I express my appreciation for their work and then state, quite simply, that I am thankful for the opportunity to pray for them as they serve our community.
  2. I don’t use insider or religious language. I keep it simple, honest and clear . . . and short!
  3. I ask God to give them wisdom and insight as they lead in our community and make decisions that affect us all.
  4. I close my prayer “in Jesus’ name, Amen.” In other words, I do not simply use the generic word “god” (which means, simultaneously, anything and almost nothing at all), but pray in the name of Jesus. I am a Christian and that’s how we pray.

But I do love praying at Town Council. Here’s four reasons why:

Our town council, picture taken from the Town of Creston Website. Find out more at creston.ca.
Our current town council. Picture taken from the Town of Creston website. Find out more at creston.ca.
  1. Praying at town council is a clear way I can show honor to our civic leaders. These men and women work hard for our community, after-hours and for little pay, and they are worthy of our honor, thanks and prayer.
  2. Praying for our council members and mayor reminds them that we care, particularly as the church. Even for folks unfamiliar with it, prayer shows care.
  3. Praying for God to give our council wisdom and guidance has real effect, as we believe that God hears our prayers and will give them what they need to lead us well.
  4. Praying for our council members invites them, gently and humbly, to consider their leadership as an act of service to us and under God.

When I pray at Town Council, I represent Jesus and his church. In truth, we need to consistently pray for those in leadership.  Not all of us get the opportunity to do so in the council chambers of a local government, but all of us can enter God’s chambers and pray on their behalf. God likes it when we do, as Paul wrote when mentoring Timothy:

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

This is good and pleases God our Savior . . .

(1 Timothy 2:1-3 NLT)

What would you add to my list of guidelines or reasons?

How do you pray for your local government?