Embracing the giving spirit

'Layaway in a Manger' spreads meaning of Christmas

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It’s the absolute, total opposite of the Grinch.

Whereas the Dr. Seuss character rode in quietly at night to stealthily steal the Whos’ Christmas – even the roast beast! – in Augusta some church members have been sneaking into stores to anonymously pay off customers’ layaway accounts.

Yep. The anti-Grinch.

Wesley United Methodist Church in Evans, whose members are fanning out to do this, is calling it “Layaway in a Manger.”

Among a plethora of community services, the church has long spread Christmas cheer through a “Random Acts of Christian Kindness” program. But the Layaway in a Manger movement, which was inspired by a similar program in Michigan, has brought a new wrinkle to the Christmas stockings this year.

What a gorgeous act of kindness – and a what a beautiful merging of the normally competing “meanings” of Christmas:
to wrap the material part with all the love and Christian spirit of the real meaning of Christmas.

And for strangers unnamed, yet.

“They just keep coming, more and more of them,” Jeff Gorelick, owner of Ruben’s Department Store downtown, told The Augusta Chronicle’s Kelly Jasper. “They paid a lady’s layaway yesterday. It had $115 left for a handbag she had been paying on for four months. She started hugging me and crying. It was the greatest thing.”

Not as great as the giving, though, or the spirit behind it.

God bless us, everyone.

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Riverman1 12/24/11 - 09:34 am
Ruben's is an honest store,

Ruben's is an honest store, but I wouldn't trust other stores doing that. How do you know they just don't keep the money? Personally give to those you know who need it. Cut out the middle man.

specsta 12/24/11 - 05:17 pm
I would hope that churches

I would hope that churches would do more of this type of giving year-round, not just at the holidays. There are a lot of folks in need of clothing, housing and food. Paying off a few layaways is wonderful but how about raising the bar and taking a percentage of all the tithes collected and giving it away to help random strangers.

There are a lot of people that just need an infusion of cash to change their lives for the better. A struggling father or mother, a struggling college student or a would-be entrepreneur that has a great idea but no financing. A large donation of cash could change their lives.

Isn't that the point of the church? To bless others, to move beyond the "go - I wish you warm and well-fed" attitude that is so prevalent among folks these days? To change lives?

A lot of folks would be blessed and that tithe money would enrich God's kingdom a lot more than a church buying a new parcel of land or giving the pastor a new Cadillac.

allhans 12/24/11 - 06:11 pm
Specsta. I agree. Some

Specsta. I agree.

Some offices now, rather than employees exchanging gifts, use the money to
"adopt a family".
There is no limit to how a few dollars from several people can make a big difference to those who have little (and there are some who are too proud to publicly ask for help).

InChristLove 12/24/11 - 06:31 pm
specsta, just so you aren't

specsta, just so you aren't misinformed, there are many churches who do this type of giving year round. Maybe not layaways but I know our church help with electric and heating bills, gas for transportation, food, clothing, medical expenses such as medication. Is that rasing the bar high enough?

"A lot of folks would be blessed and that tithe money would enrich God's kingdom"

This isn't tithe money going for the needy or layaways. This is extra money beyond the tithes given to the church. I don't know what preacher is getting a new Cadillac but it sure isn't mine. :)

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