When you think about Christmas, what do you think about? Presents? Christmas lights? Baby Jesus? The Christmas stories? Holidays? Snow? The songs sell us an image: ‘It’s the season to be jolly…’, ‘Joy to the world…’, ‘Heavenly Peace….’, ‘It is the most wonderful time of the year…’ Christmas time. The festive season. Christmas is acknowledged worldwide, and everything points to a positive, happy time, one to look forward to.
It is not surprising then that most people associate the Christmas season with family, friends, exchanging gifts and enjoying a festive meal together. However, for some people, this is not the case. Christmas, for them, is a time filled with trepidation and anxiety, as they realise they are not in a financial position to meet the demands of the season, and a festive meal is but a dream.
‘Christmas Lunch on Jesus’ is an initiative that started in 2007 to help underprivileged people in the London Borough of Barnet to have access to a free nutritious Christmas lunch. It has grown considerably over the years, since other churches and organisations have got involved in distributing hampers in communities across the country. CLOJ, as we fondly refer to it, now exists in 20 boroughs in London, 15 cities in the UK and 3 other countries as a franchise. A CLOJ hamper is filled with everything that is required for a hearty healthy Christmas lunch – from the Brussel sprouts to the turkey! Working with the local authorities and other agencies, families in need are identified and recommended to receive a hamper.
The hampers are given free to celebrate God’s gift of Jesus to the world. Over the years we have given over 20,000 hampers out.
The outreach runs on the generosity of church members and of the public who donate a given amount to sponsor a hamper. We have recently had the support of large corporations who have matched donations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
Seeing ourselves as the hands and feet of Jesus, we believe as Christians that we must show the love of Jesus in practical ways. We believe that for some people, we will be their first contact with Jesus. In the words of a few of the recipients:
Testimony 1: Thank you all very much for a wonderful Christmas hamper, it was exciting to open it and discover all the good food inside. It certainly has made our Christmas something we don’t have to worry about now because everything has been catered for. So, thank you all for making our Christmas special and wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and all the best for the new year. Love from the Brown family.
Testimony 2: The hamper was a lovely mixture of Christmas food and things we had not been able to buy because of money problems. We had a wonderful Christmas dinner and turkey sandwich for tea. Evan the dog loved it. We had an early present opening the box and getting things out andseeing what was next. The CD was played lots oftimes and we had a few little dances while peeling the potatoes and sprouts. Thank you for making our Christmas a happy one, God bless you and may He keep you safe.
Testimony 3: Many thanks for the Christmas hamper. As a pensioner, I really appreciated it because it provided us a hot Christmas lunch. We would not have afforded it, much of our pensions go on bills and there is very little left. We are eating very frugally. There is not much cash left after paying for the gas, electricity and council tax. Please provide us a hamper next year as well. Many thanks, God bless.
We would like to help as many people as we can. It is our desire to see that no one in our community goes without a traditional Christmas lunch. We can only do this with your help. Donations are the lifeblood of the CLOJ project, and we depend on the generosity of people like you.
If you would like to make a difference in the lives of others this Christmas, please get involved by visiting www.christmaslunchonjesus.com