It’s all too easy to get caught up in the bustle and materialism of the Christmas season and forget that it is meant to be a season of giving and love.
So this year, Pastor Ray Ake of the Henrietta Methodist Church did something unexpected, with one aim: to capture the true spirit of Christmas.
While preparing a sermon, Ake read a Biblical parable that tells of a manager who gave his servants money as a test of whether they would invest it or squander it.
“I read the scripture and God said, ‘Why don’t you do this?’ ” Ake said.
So he did — withdrawing $900 from his personal savings account Sept. 23 to distribute to his congregation.
“I just put $10 in envelopes, and at that point in the sermon said, ‘So, here it is,’ ” he said.
Ake said that he felt no hesitation about diving into his savings for the project.
“I’m really convinced that you can’t take it with you. The only thing money is good for is to spend. It has no other value.”
Church member Linda Davidson said she couldn’t help but be impressed.
“The nicest thing was that he had the faith in us to do this,” she said. “That really inspired a lot of people.”
When Ake doled out the envelopes, he gave no guidelines or restrictions.
“Just ‘Here it is — use your talents and multiply it, and we’ll see what comes up,” he said.
Parishioners Kathy Cousino and Kim Biery organized a craft sale, which was held in conjunction with the church’s annual sale of pies and pumpkin rolls. Church members used their $10 to purchase materials to make the items that were sold, and the proceeds are to be donated Monday to the church.
“It was so fun to discover what each of our talents and gifts are,” Cousino said. “It really brought the congregation together and gave them an objective to work toward.”
Other parishioners found other inventive ways to invest.
John Born, for example, used the money to put fuel in his combine and harvested three acres of soybeans. He is donating the proceeds of the sale of the crops to the church.
Another couple proved financially savvy — they opened a bank account with the $10 and $100 from the bank as a new account incentive.
On Christmas Eve, the church will be collecting the profits of the $10 investments.
“Whatever comes in is going to be used for outreach and families in need,’’ Ake said. “Whether it’s community or India, we’re going to spend it on people.”
Ake believes that his congregation has learned a valuable lesson from the experience.
“I think people get stuck in the belief that this is who we are and this is what we can do,” he said. “And now all of a sudden, they realize none of that is really true.”
Davidson expressed the same sentiment.
“We learned we could really pull together and make a difference,” she said.
Cousino agreed: “It gave people an opportunity to work together as a congregation, not just as a committee.”
Ake couldn’t be more thrilled with his investment.
“There’s this wonderful outpouring of ability to help other people,” he said. “If I had said to the church, ‘I need $5,000 to give away so people can have a good Christmas,’ they would have said, ‘We’re just a tiny church. We can’t afford to do that.’
“But more than that is going to come in. And we’re all really delighted to give it away. How cool is that?”
Contact Dale Sheffield at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.