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Summary: There are so many hurting people in our world and we often feel that we have nothing to offer that will provide any real sense of peace or joy. We can be supportive, we can offer prayer, we can send gifts, and all of these things are great, but, the one

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I like the Christmas Season. Overall it’s a positive time of year when people seem to be more in tune with serving and giving, especially to those in need. I think this is a great thing. It’s appropriate that the time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior, the world seems to better grasp His overall message of love and peace, even if they don’t acknowledge His divinity. But this time of year can also be pretty tough on folks. I have a friend who died a few days ago, she is survived by her husband and three grown daughters, one is due any day now to deliver a baby girl. This will be a difficult Christmas to celebrate for them. This family is not alone. All of us are shocked and completely overwhelmed with emotions ranging from anger and fear to despair over the shooting that took place in Newtown Connecticut on Friday morning. We grieve for those families and for that community. From now on December 14th will be a very difficult day for these victims families. The innocence of this season and the peace and joy on earth we celebrate commemorating the birth of Jesus has been shattered for all of us, but, especially for those families who sent kids to the Sandy Hook Elementary school and will never pick them up again.

For all the fun and joy this season, there is also a lot of pain. Grief share ministry is a practical resource for folks dealing with grief and they offer some tips on their website: www.griefshare.org. For those who are hurting, lonely, or sad during this Christmas season here are some practical suggestions for surviving the season. These suggestions are found at griefshare.org

1. Prepare – be prepared for the ambush of emotions

2. Accept – this is a difficult time of year, but, remind yourself it’s just a season, it will pass.

3. Socialize – don’t give in to insecurity, force yourself to go out even it’s just for a short time.

4. Lower expectations – holiday movies and songs are unrealistic

5. Don’t Anesthetize the pain with drugs and/or alcohol – numbing yourself this way will cause more depression

6. Trimming – if old ornaments or other Christmas memories are painful, keep them stored for another year

7. Get up and move- take care of yourself. Eating healthy provides more strength, exercise helps lower stress

8. Shop online – if going to the mall or stores proves too stressful

9. Coping Strategy – tape the phone number of a confidant to your phone and call if you’re emotionally overwhelmed

10. Light – get some sunshine. Winter can take an emotional toll because of the lack of sun.

11. Invite someone new- to play a game, see a movie or decorate the house or yard.

12. Set Boundaries – Be honest and explain to your family/friends what you are capable of doing and what you’re not. Don’t let others guilt you into taking on more than you can handle

13. Reach others- discover those who might be alone during the holidays

This may not be a popular topic for us to talk about right now, but, with the events that occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School I thought it was important to address some resources. Maybe you could use these tips, or you know someone who does.

Before I get to the Scripture we’re looking at today, I want to bring up another thing that makes the season of Christmas difficult for a lot of folks. We have a tendency to spend more than what we have. According to CBCNews the debt load of Canadians has exploded over 400% the last two years. And according to this report, even though credit card debt is down a little bit, and for the most part folks are not delinquent on their non-instalment debts, the average credit card debt for a Canadian is $3,573. The Christmas season seems to bring out the worst in our bad spending habits. I can relate. I want to give my family, my kids and my wife wonderful presents for Christmas. It’s a great thing to watch the smiles and the excitement of your kids and loved ones opening presents. It’s no secret that Christmas is the most commercial and retail shopping time of the year. And it’s a huge temptation for a lot of folks to spend more money on gifts than they have. Here’s what some of us may look and feel like when we get that first credit card bill after Christmas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S74ACQs3Tjc

It seems to me that we always experience consequences when we give something we don’t have. If we pay more money than what we have we suffer from a heavy debt load or an insane interest rate to pay off our credit cards. If we give more than what we have emotionally we can suffer anxiety or depression. Most of us are generous people, we want to give, we want to help, but sometimes we just don’t have the resources to give what we want to, and that can be frustrating. You know what I’m talking about? Have you ever wanted to give, but, just didn’t have the resources? You wanted to help, but, you didn’t have the time, or the money, or the knowledge of how to help or even know what to do? It’s difficult isn’t it; but, this is the most awesome thing about being a follower of Jesus. Jesus has everything to give, because Jesus has everything. God doesn’t know what it feels like to not be able to meet a need, because He has every resource to meet every need.

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