Each year I look forward to Christmas! Although it can be a hectic time of year, I look forward to time spent with loved ones, baking cookies, sharing memories, and exchanging gifts. I love seeing the look on my loved ones' faces as they open something special we have selected for them. The other side of the coin can be that shopping for others can be frustrating and I am left wondering if all the expense and indecision of picking out the "perfect" gift is really worth it. I mean, do the "littles" really need another toy and do I need another sweater?
The simple answer is "no." So why do we buy all of it? Tradition? The excitement of giving? The desire for more? Whatever the reason, I am left with the feeling that as a Christian, I should do something different. Jesus was quite pointed when he talked about money, the poor, and generosity. He praised the widow for giving her two coins because it was all she had as opposed to the wealthy who gave thousands but still had thousands left over. John is even harsher in I John 3:17 (NRSV): "How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?" James digs even deeper when he says, "If you know someone who doesn't have any clothes or food, you shouldn't just say, 'I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.' What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? Faith that doesn't lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!" (James 2:15-17, CEV).
Realizing that we have more than we could ever need while others are struggling simply to survive, pushes us out of our comfort zone to think of gift giving in a different way. Maybe you are being called to clean out your closet, give away a possession, offer free babysitting services to a family in need, or purchase gifts for a family. Remembering the words Jesus himself said from Acts 20:35, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" serves to remind us that generosity to others should be evidence of our faith and love for Jesus.
Ask your child...
Who are the "unimportant" people in your school? church? family?
How will you follow Jesus' call to care for these people?
Challenge your child...
Buy gifts for people who really need them.
Look for ways to address poverty in your community, even if you don't have much money.
God, I want to honor and serve you. Help me to see the ways you call me to share my wealth with others. Amen.