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Remembering the true meaning of Christmas at St. James AME in Orange Park

3:42 PM, Dec 25, 2013   |    comments
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ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Kids on Christmas morning are often quick to open their presents, and sometimes get lost in the true meaning behind the day.

St. James AME in Orange Park buses in dozens of homeless members from Jacksonville every week for its church service. This Christmas, they received a special meal along with the company of people in their fellowship. It's also a time to reflect and remember what the day is all about.

Reverend Alesia Ford-Burse says, "It's just awesome to see the joy that it brings for them to be a part of the church, a part of people seeing Christ in life and living and being a part of a meal and giving gifts and sharing in the joy of this day."

She also says it's nice to see the people of her church come together to support families in the community who are less fortunate. One of those people is Betty Crawford. She was homeless and on the streets. That's when she found this church.

"God's been blessing me. February I've been clean one year. I've been off the streets, and I'm out and I don't forget where I came from," says Crawford.

She has five sons who have been in and out of prison. She hopes that they will see how she's changed her life and change theirs too. She's now sharing a meal, surrounded by many other people who are, like she was, struggling.

"I have seen so much love, embrace around me, knowing that someone out there cares for me," says Crawford.  

One of those people is Chandra Jordan. She and her three sons attend St. James AME. She says Christmas is a good time to talk to her children about what this day means.

"We still remind them that nothing comes without sacrifice. In order to sometimes receive, you have to be willing to give as well. It just reminds us of what we're actually supposed to be celebrating on this day, and for those people who may not have had a meal or the chance to have the love of family and friends this is a good time to come together and not feel alone," says Jordan. 

St. James AME has had a Christmas dinner every year for the past three years.

"Christmas is about giving because that's what Jesus Christ is. He's a gift, and God gave him to us and so we should not forget the true meaning of what Christmas is about. And that's celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ," says Rev. Ford-Burse.

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