Greetings.I want to wish you a blessed Christmas …. before I ‘switch off’ until sometime in the New Year. I have more great articles ready to circulate next year, & also ideas for more articles I might write (God & time willing) … on things like “Do Christians need to gather together?” “The problem of ordained/professional ministers” etcChristmas – a great time to remember Jesus, friends & family, & the POOR.I’ve been reading “Exiles” by Michael Frost – a great new book that I highly recommend for Christmas (or 2007) reading …. One of the things he says is that every culture has ‘gods’, whether they are overt or hidden. He suggests (I agree) that one of the main ‘gods’ in the west is materialism (& selfishness) … he says we need to confront / challenge this ‘god’ … particularly by living counter-culturally. We ‘rich’ Christians are typically as rich & materialistic as those ‘non-christians’ around us … or at least there aren’t overt, highly visible differences between us …. Could you spot who are the Christians in NZ / US / UK society by only looking at their use of $, spending on themselves, the poor etc???? … I suggest that this would be very difficult … as typically ‘we’ aren’t much different (apart from possibly giving $ to our organised church, which spends typically 90% on providing wonderful ‘services’ for our own use – a bit like ‘non-christians’ paying to be part of the golf club etc) … we’re not radically counter-cultural enough to draw the world’s attention to our different allegiance & values …Here’s a challenge …. for christians who are called to love the poor, give to the needy who can’t repay etc etc …. Can you / we / I … spend as much on helping the poor this Christmas as we spend on giving to the rich (our selves, friends & family) ….OR … if you / we / I don’t have enough $ to do it that way around, what about trying to only spend as much on the rich as we’ve already spent on the poor ….. (ie give to the poor first …)As we celebrate Christmas, which is typically linked to over-eating & indulgence, can we remember (& do something about) the people starving in the world, including the 30,000 children that die of starvation every day (including Christmas day)


David Allis