The Christmas season is upon us. Have you ever heard people say that Christmas is really for the children? I think the implication is that as we get older the fascination and excitement about Christmas somewhat dies down – we tend not to view it in the same way that we once did. When I look back over my own life I can remember the excitement that I had as a child, the sense of having a good time with friends as a teenager, and then regaining some of the excitement and wonder when having children of my own. In these later years it’s been more about spending time with a grown up family amidst all the church activities – quite a rich combination really.
But what about that thought – Christmas is really for the children. If you’ve ever been around a church at Christmas over the past ten years or so, you’re likely to have come across something called a “Christingle Service”. This is a special event that celebrates the work of The Children’s Society – a charity with Christian roots that works amongst some of the most disadvantaged youngsters and families across the nation. The charity was founded in 1881 by Edward Rudolf, a Sunday school teacher, and it has had a close connection with the Church and the Christian faith throughout its existence.
The work of the charity is quite varied, from activities aimed at ending child poverty, to helping young people access mental health support, and help for those youngsters who have gone missing from their homes. They also engage in activities towards the prevention of child sexual exploitation, alongside support for young carers (those providing support for parents who have ill-health). The charity also takes on political issues where they feel there are voices that aren’t being heard.At a recent meeting I heard some of the statistics that form the backdrop to the work of The Children’s Society: there are over 4 million children living in poverty in the UK; every 5 minutes a young person goes missing in the UK; closer to home there are over 3,600 children living in families with debt problems within Cornwall. A recent report into the UK care system for families and children, covered by a BBC news item on their website, shows that the demand for care services has increased dramatically over the past ten years, with government agencies struggling to cope. In such an environment the work of charities like The Children’s Society becomes all the more important, and over the last two years the charity has worked directly with over 11,000 youngsters and has contributed towards political policy changes that have helped over half a million more. Volunteers for the charity, working alongside paid staff, gave over 580,000 hours of their time to work with families and youngsters.
So what about that thought – Christmas is really for the children? We may as parents, grandparents or family friends have the wonder of being part of a Christmas with youngsters around, and that will be great. But whether we have that or not, we have an opportunity to put children at the forefront by going along to a Christingle Service – not only will you have a good time but you’ll also be able to make a donation towards the work of The Children’s Society. The first Christmas was all about a child – a child who brought light into a dark world. This Christmas can also be all about a child. Christingle awaits.
Christingle Services in our area: 16th December – 10.00 a.m., St. Sampson’s at South Hill; Christmas Eve – all at 4.00 pm, Stoke Climsland Church, St. Mary’s at Callington, St. Paul’s at Upton Cross.