TRURO - Anyone worried about not having enough to spend this Christmas should consider giving presence, not presents, says Rev. Cory Somers of Immanuel Baptist Church.
"Give more of what matters," he said. "You know, spend time with each other. Make things for each other, bake things for each other, call each other....
"And perhaps more importantly ... to love all."
Somers has been encouraging his congregation to reduce their Christmas spending, even if it is by one gift per family member, and to focus, instead, on the "real meaning" of Christmas.
"We believe, as do most people these days, that Christmas has just become too much about consumerism," he said. "And, so we're encouraging our people to focus on the real meaning of Christmas and spend less."
Part of his Christmas message will also be to "love all" and to that end, the church is involved in a project that is raising money to create wells and mini irrigation systems in Boliva.
And for those who find themselves missing a loved one who has passed away or who is in an otherwise lonely situation, he encourages them to find solace in the message of hope.
"We recognize there are many people that are experiencing trouble, we talk to people all the time that have lost a loved one and we know this is one of the loneliest times of the year for them," Somers said. "So it's a very difficult time for them. The loneliness of the holidays is very stark."
But it doesn't have to be that way, he adds.
"You don't have to be alone. God is reaching out to us all the time. That is what Christmas is all about. God reached into our loneliness and our hurt and he came to live among us. That was true 2,000 years ago and it's still true today."
Rev. Dr. Brian Ross of St. James Presbyterian Church agrees.
"I can identify with that," he said, of losing a loved one during the yuletide holidays, in reference to the death several years ago of his own father about two weeks before Christmas.
"And I can identify with the fact that there is pain for those that have lost loved ones. We, as those who believe in Christ, believe that the light streaming from Bethlehem's manger is fully capable of shedding its radiance and shining its brilliance into the lives of those who have been recently bereaved."
And while Ross encourages lonely and grieving individuals to seek peace within a church setting, it doesn't have to happen that way. The important thing, he says, is for everyone to open their hearts to the peace that he says believing in Christ can achieve.
"It can happen in worship," he says, within the company of other believers, or simply by listening to some favourite Christmas carols while sitting at home alone.
"We're not to dictate the terms by which the Saviour can be present to people," Ross said. "Christians believe on the authority of God's word that He is who He says He is - the light of the world - and that light can shine, does shine, and our determination is simply to offer ourselves in worship so that His light may shine through us."
Rev. Brian DeLong of Coldstream Pastoral Charge in Valley and Greenfield believes it is especially important to remember lost loved ones at this time of year because that is how we keep them real.
"It's in the sharing of the memories of that person," he said. "Even though they are physically not present, that memory certainly brings that person back to them (along with) the remembering of the Christmases spent with that person."
Speaking on Wednesday, just prior to heading out to conduct a funeral service, DeLong said it is also important for any grieving or lonely person to remember there are many, many others who also feel their pain.
"They are certainly not alone in that journey."