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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Holy Christmas Kettles! Major Ivan Speaking at Oshawa Fellowship Dinner!

Christmas in Canada - Christmas Kettles Contemplations! 

Thinking Christmas in Canada? A common sight on street corners in the advent season is Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal Christmas Kettles. These kettles used to be manned only by members of the Salvation Army volunteering their time, but due to the need for more donations, more volunteers are used from outside the Salvation Army. This is how I became in the Christmas Kettle Brigade a couple of years ago. Being part of the Christmas Kettle Brigade that year was quite an education into the reactions of others. Have you ever volunteered for the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Brigade? This post has some of my contemplations about the Christmas Kettle Brigade, my tug of war about celebrating Christmas,details about an upcoming event in Oshawa and a video of Major Ivan Budgell, who will be the key note speaker at the event. Interested?
Here are some of my conflicting thoughts on the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal Christmas Kettles and Christmas Celebrations.

Contemplating Christmas Kettles - Teetering on Bah Humbug!

When I was teaching school our class held a Good King Wenceslas Gently Used Gift Sale to raise funds for the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal. It was a great deal of fun and enlivened our Medieval Times History Unit. Later, when I was injured, and trying to stretch ODSP dollars, I was very grateful to receive help funded by the  Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal. It was this gratitude that made me jump at the opportunity to help with the Red Shield Appeal as a Kettle Tender two years ago. 
Since my right hand and side was still very sore from injuries, I had the opportunity to build some strong muscles in my left hand and arm as I rang the bell to draw attention to the Kettle Campaign. Most people were cheerful, but there were a few who took it upon themselves to be downright nasty!
Why were they nasty?
several people were disgruntled about their past treatment by individuals involved with the Salvation Army.
Unfortunately, I too have discovered that yes, even the Salvation Army has real ordinary people involved in their fundraising and program delivery.
What? 
Real fallible people?
Yup - REAL people!
Some of these real people have caused the Salvation Army a tonne of bad publicity in recent years.
For example, when it hit international headlines that a top person was stealing toys donated for children and selling them, it shook the Salvation Army to the core.
For some reason it reminded me of Judas, selling our Saviour. Another thing that has caused some people to losen respect for the campaign is finding out that some communities PAY the bell ringers at their kettles, thereby really restricting the amount of your donation that actually reaches the children.
I lost my respect for the campaign when I was homeless and called the Oshawa Salvation Army for help only to be told to call back again the next day - umm .. this happened three days in a row, before I finally gave up asking people for help. Then when I was in a battered women's shelter, I discovered another woman had worked as a volunteer for years for them , and got a deaf ear when she and her family needed help finding a place to live -they ended up on the street too.
However, this is not the true source of my Bah Humbug attitude towards the Salvation Army Red Shield Christmas Appeal.
My Bah Humbug is more towards the Christmas Celebration.

Christmas- What Would Jesus Do?

Here is my problem - I am torn about the whole celebrating Christmas in December idea. My litmus test in past years has been the WWJD - What Would Jesus Do? 
The shift for me came when I was a teen visiting Germany where Sankt Niklaus comes on December 6th with Swarzen Peter -leaving tiny treasures and goodies. Christmas on the other hand is reserved to the celebration of Christ's Birth. This spoke to my heart, and I wanted to bring this tradition to our family.
Umm.. a word to the wise - 
Changing longstanding traditions may NOT be the best idea during a high stress period.
Later, when I discovered that some people celebrated Christ's birth in January during Epihany - when the wise men brought gifts.Since all the children in our family were grown, this seemed a viable solution to our non-existent gift budget.
Still it niggled at me, was celebrating Christmas something God would want me to be doing?

Jesus Would Not Celebrate Christmas - A Word Given to My Heart

Shortly before Epiphany, on January 2, 2013, I woke with a scripture in my heart Isaiah 1:17 when I looked it up I was quite surprised at the topic - God is fed up with our man-made feasts. He wants us to be celebrating the Feasts of the Lord. 
Did I pay attention?
Wellll.... shopping pressure and peer pressure and kid pressure is hard to resist - as are the earlier joys of childhood Christmas memories.
Should it surprise me then that I got Isaiah 1:12 just before Easter in 2014?
When our soul convicts us of something, then it is time to repent - to change our minds and change our ways.
Going against the leading of our spirit is not healthy for us spiritually nor physically.
Have you heard the saying "sick at heart'?
I feel very conflicted about these man-made holidays .

Secular Reasons for Not Celebrating Christmas

Christmas may be bad for your health. The crazy spending during Christmas, Easter, and Halloween does not serve to Glorify God.
There are many drawbacks to celebrating Christmas.
Have you heard of Holiday Shopping hangover? 
When people overspend for holidays, using credit cards, they end up paying through the nose for those so- called sales items for months - some for years! This is disastrous for families.
Christmas Blues- Psychology today notes depression is common around Christmas and a higher rate of suicide attempts occurs around this supposed "happy holiday". 
Why?
  1. Unrealistic expectations - trying to live up to "the perfect social events" and spending.
  2. Excessive self-reflection and comparing our lows to other people's highs.

Did Jesus Celebrate His Birthday? 

So did Jews celebrate their birthdays in Jesus' day?
Good question! 
According to all the research I've been able to find - the answer is no!
In addition to this, His birthday is probably months away from Christmas! Hint- Shepherds would not have been out in the fields in the month of December.
So what's wrong with celebrating that God sent His Son to save us?
The question is - are we really celebrating Christ's birth?
Rather than spending one day a year trying to have THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS, would it make much more sense to daily seek to show Good will to all people and advocate for Peace on Earth by doing as Christ said in Matthew 25 34 - 40.
For me the tug of war between family traditions and what is right is very difficult. Are you struggling with this too?
How do you deal with this conflict?
I found some advice on several websites that you may find interesting too.
So what solution is there like a Humm Bug like me?
Like Ssroog, I am happy keeping the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart every day.

 Here is the information about the upcoming event in Oshawa, along with the video testimony by Major Ivan Budgell.

Major Ivan comes to Oshawa !....Tuesday , Dec 8th !!

Full Gospel Businessmen cordially invites all men and women to attend their banquet & concert on Tuesday, Dec.8,2015. This dinner event and concert will feature ministry by Major Ivan Budgell. You may be aware that Major Budgell is a rather special man....a distinguished officer of the Salvation Army. This will be held at Johnny's Restaurant,850 King Street W (just west of Thornton) in Oshawa. Please feel free to view, print, read, post and circulate this poster!!!
Advance tickets $13 are needed for this event !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
email Doug Hawkins at
This is an event for ALL men and women !!
Can't make it to this event? Here is a YouTube Video of Major Budgell sharing his testimony at a previous Christmas function.
Need help dealing with Christmas Blues?
Here are some tips from Psychology today:
Thanks for reading!
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May God Bless you and your family on your journey,
Suzanne