Five for Friday: Christmas Philanthropy, Cards, and Lights

By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (December 19, 2014) – Many Covenanters routinely share links to social media articles and videos with one another that Covenant News Service believes may be of interest to others. Each Friday we post five of them. Following is a sample of those submissions—their inclusion does not represent an endorsement by the Covenant of any views expressed.

The Giving Conundrum

There are so many giving opportunities — including the Covenant — but knowing just what and how to give can raise a host of overwhelming questions.

Author Courtney E. Martin writes about the dilemma so many of us face: “Should I focus locally, because we all have to start where we are? Or should I focus globally, because people in Malawi have it way harder than people in Oakland, no matter how you slice it? Should I focus on issues no one seems to care about? Or should I focus on issues that seem like they’re having a zeitgeist moment, right at the tipping point of critical mass consciousness and change? Should I give more to smaller organizations and less to large ones, or visa versa? Should I give to the same organizations year after year or spread the wealth around?”

More people than you might think find ways to answer those questions and participate in some form of philanthropy.

Kay Warren: Stop Sending Cheery Christmas Cards

Kay Warren recently wrote a Facebook post in which she expressed the hurt cheery Christmas cards cause because she continues to grieve the death of her son Matthew, who committed suicide in 2013. Responses to the post varied, with many people saying they feel the same way, while others have said joyful cards have comforted them. Still others exhorted her to “remember the reason for the season.” While re-asserting how she feels, Warren writes in this Christianity Today article, “I’m slowly learning that grief is both universal and yet as individual as each person who mourns.”

Increasingly, churches are holding “Blue Christmas” services, which acknowledge the heightened sense of loss and pain many people experience during what is a joyful time of the year for many.

First Covenant Church in Cadillac, Michigan, will hold one Monday night. Pastor Greg Du Bois told the local newspaper, “These losses can make us feel out of place with the festive mood. We hold back…fearing rejection or not wanting to discourage others. I think the Christian church is suited to mourn and express grief. There is a time to rejoice and a time to mourn. The service is designed to acknowledge that yes, the loss is real. We all suffer loss and you are not alone.”

5 Ways To Encourage Kids To Grow Up To Be Innovators

At this time of year when we celebrate the birth of a child who would do more than we could ever ask or imagine, when we tell of the star of wonder, when the supernatural interrupts the ordinary, may we remember to continue to stand firmly against all that would squelch the creative spirit that flows in and through children. And may we continue to make every opportunity for them to lead us in new ways that we should go.

The home of the Richards family of Canberra, Australia, bedazzled with 502,165 Christmas lights.

The home of the Richards family of Canberra, Australia, bedazzled with 502,165 Christmas lights.

The Intense Competition to be the World’s Most-Decorated House

This competition is brilliant in more ways than one. I’ve been thrilled to see an increasing number of houses displaying more Christmas lights than any time since the 1970s energy crisis. I just never imagined anything like this.

Bob Dylan Covers Sinatra on New Album ‘Shadows in the Night’

Speaking of mistakes. Shadows in the Night should never see the light of day. As if Dylan’s Christmas album hadn’t been bad enough when it comes to making classics unlistenable. Sure, some critics gave that album good reviews, but only because they couldn’t bring themselves to admit Dylan could produce something so awful. Want proof? Check out, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” See how I worked that Christmas theme in?

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About the Author

Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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