This advent season I have been torn between two views on gift giving. On one side are people super excited about their purchases and on the other side I feel the pull to do away with presents all together and give that sum to charity.
I wondered if somewhere we have missed the point. It is not about who does or doesn't go to the mall or rules about saving money. This is in stark contrast to the beautiful scenes in olden stories such as Dicken's "Christmas Carol". There is a tiny scene in this work featuring a boss who gives a yearly lavish party to his employees - because he loves to give.
Those of us who work for the needs of the poor should be the most pro-giving people ever. Generosity leads to more generosity. Why should we even give at all? Christ's coming to earth as a baby is the ultimate gift, the lavish extravagant grace of God. He "spent himself" for us. We more than any others have the freedom to truly celebrate and feast that in a small way foreshadows the great feast that is to come.
Our generosity should not just stop at our neighbors, family, and friends, but to those who have deep needs. Paul says that we have freedom, but should not use that freedom to indulge ourselves but to serve one another in love. John later says that if we see our brother who has material needs and don't do something for him that real love is not in us.
So this Christmas I am going to try to spend more, spend myself on the behalf of others. I am still pondering it. I don't exactly know what that looks like. It's different for everyone.
Some ideas rattling around in my brain:
Being more loving and understanding to people that annoy me.
Taking back some unneeded (but awesome) shoes to give to someone's real need.
Find a sponsor for Helen, in India, a child waiting for sponsorship for over 6 months.
Volunteering some time even though I know with my health issues it is going to cost me.
And it needs to - cost me.