I started my writing career composing how-to essays. Ideas were all around me. This is one I had heard a church execute. It seemed like an effective way of expressing Christ’s love at Christmas. If it’s too late for your church to put this plan into effect this year, keep it in mind for 2011. This article has sold three times to religious publications. Hopefully many people have been helped by it.
Living and Giving Tree Spreads God’s Love at Christmas
If your church is looking for a way to share Christmas with church members experiencing tough times, create a “Living and Giving Tree.” Unlike traditional Christmas trees, a Living and Giving Tree doesn’t sit in a corner. It’s made up of people who want to help brothers and sisters in Christ. Here’s how it works.
A Living and Giving Tree coordinator makes a list of people in the church who could use encouragement of some kind — single parents, shut-ins, unemployed, those who have lost a loved one or who are experiencing a long-term illness. A church minister or someone on the benevolence committee can help create the list.
The coordinator then contacts each person on the list, explaining the special program of caring during the Christmas season and asking if he or she would like to be included as a recipient.
The coordinator writes the person’s name in a notebook, along with phone number, address and suggestion for assistance. Helping to buy groceries, having dinner out, or simply spending an evening in someone’s home are possible ideas, as well as financial assistance. All information is confidential.
Once the coordinator has the final list of people, names are written on small pieces of paper, which are then folded and stapled shut. While others could decorate the outside of the papers with festive stickers or symbols, only the coordinator knows the names inside. The “ornaments” are then attached to a paper or artificial tree positioned somewhere in the church so it can be easily seen.
Youth members in the church who wish to participate pick one card from the tree the first Sunday in December. They then report the name they received to the coordinator, who stands next to the tree.
No trading of names is allowed. This not only avoids confusion, but encourages contact between people who might otherwise never cross paths. Those with the cards promise to contact the person whose name they picked before Christmas and arrange a suitable time for them to get together for their assistance.
A Living and Giving Tree is a great way to show love in a special way at Christmas. “Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2 (NASB).