More than 2,000 years ago, a youngster was born in a manger, bringing with him key messages we share to this day, of peace, hope, joy and love.
“We believe God came to bring Jesus to shine some light into those situations and that we as people can share that light in the world to people, too,” First Baptist Church Rev. Michael Engbers said.
Many Prince Albert area churches have been preparing for the holiday season, not necessarily buying into the consumer nature of things, but by looking out for their neighbours.
Countless food hampers have been delivered and other good deeds have and will continue to be done, in keeping with the Christian meaning behind the season.
“Let’s bring back the focus back to what Christ really came to do,” Engbers said.
“It’s not all about spending, it’s about loving others and caring for others and we see in scripture, Christ meeting the needs of all these people around him, and it’s a reminder that we’re called to do the same thing.”
“I think for us, it’s a message of hope and the phrase that I used last Sunday, because … we were talking about the shootings in Connecticut … is we punch holes into the darkness,” Wesley United Church pastor Tony Thompson said.
“It’s the idea of giving rather than just taking, and being part of the whole consumer experience -- sort of the generosity of spirit.”
At the Calvary United Church, where members have prepared 21 Christmas hampers, the focus is on giving.
“When we’re spending so much time on celebrating the blessings that we have, and spending money on our own families and buying gifts and all those trappings that go with this time of year, it makes us realize those who don’t have as much as others and who are struggling at this time of year,” pastor Nora Vedress said.
Let’s bring back the focus back to what Christ really came to do. It’s not all about spending, it’s about loving others and caring for others and we see in scripture, Christ meeting the needs of all these people around him, and it’s a reminder that we’re called to do the same thing. - First Baptist Church Rev. Michael Engbers
“It’s not enough for God to give us stuff all the time, we have to give back as well.”
Christmas is a pristine time for people to be reminded of this, she noted.
“God sent Jesus to be our light and to offer us an example of how we can live in this world with dignity and respect and a purpose … It’s about what gifts we can give to the world to make it a brighter place.”
While many people settle in with their families to partake in Christmas traditions, for some, Christmas opens up emotional wounds, Prince Albert Alliance Church pastor Craig Hollands said.
For some, instead of loved ones, they have loneliness, or instead of decorations bringing joy they bring devastation.
“So what can Christmas truly be about?” Hollands asked. “You can’t say it’s tradition, because that would rule out those for whom tradition is very painful.
“Christmas is truly about Jesus Christ coming out to be in humanity, and giving his life for humanity no matter what our circumstance -- that’s the message of Christmas.”
“Give to people who actually need it,” Engbers said. “I think at Christmas, when we give of ourselves, we’re showing the love of Christ to the world around us.”
Most churches in Prince Albert are recognizing Christmas with special candlelight services on Christmas eve. As always, anyone interested in showing up is encouraged to do so, all pastors contacted for this story agreed.
“We have a diverse congregation,” Thompson said, adding that there’s always room for more.
“A lot of people go to visit their extended families over Christmas, and some families come here over Christmas, so it kind of evens out.”