Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Generosity

This time of year there are many asking questions about how to balance out giving gifts to friends and family on the one hand and giving to the poor on the other hand. There is a push to get back to a simpler celebration of Christmas and not be so commercialized about it all. I love to simplify (I'm actually addicted to it!). And I don't want our kids to be materialistic, but we are celebrating the most wonderful event in history! We do want to actually celebrate! We want the world to see us celebrating Jesus in a wonderful, beautiful way! And we want to include the orphan and the widow in our celebrating. I would like to offer up another word (or two) on the subject via some terrific articles that say things much better than I ever could. My introductions will be in italics. Enjoy your Christmas celebrations, whatever they may look like!

We can celebrate in grand style, but we invite the poor to celebrate with us! Sending money is one way to help the poor, but there are poor and needy all around us that need ministering to as well.

"Israel was not supposed to refrain from feasting because there were orphans and widows around. Rather, they were commanded to bring the orphan and the widow into their feasting, so that the needy could share the abundance of their joy and of their goods. We in the new covenant have an even more profound reason for doing so: God has shared the abundance of His life with us in Jesus, and so ought we to share with one another.

So, feast this Christmas in good conscience. Lay your hands on whatever your soul desires, and eat it in rejoicing and thanks. But look for opportunities to share your abundance with the orphan, the widow, the aged and the poor. God has filled you when you were empty, and helped you when you were helpless. Go and do likewise.”

I found this quote here.

Is buying presents materialistic?

"As you do your Christmas shopping, you are bound to run into the person who is feeling very guilty about buying presents. It’s so materialistic, they say. Well, yes, it is in one sense. After all, it is stuff. But if we are buying this stuff to bestow on our friends and family because God has bestowed so much of it on us that we just have to let it slosh over, then that is not materialism.

Thankfulness is a great antidote to false-guilt giving. Look at how much God throws away on us all the time. How much rain just runs down the gutter? How many sunsets are enjoyed by the whales because no one else is around to see them? What about the mountainsides covered in wildflowers that no human eye will behold? God just gives and gives and gives recklessly. He doesn’t want us to feel guilty about the sunset or the flowers. He wants us to overflow in thanksgiving. And though we cannot come near His capacity to give, we can imitate His extravagance by giving gifts and filling stockings and making fudge, all to the glory and praise of The Great Gift Giver Extraordinaire."
Entire article here.

This is a little idea for gift giving. We sometime get more than one gift in a category, but it is helpful to have an outline to start from.

Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read
Entire article here.

Celebrating and rejoicing is a discipline that we have to learn how to do well. It takes work and effort to celebrate such a wonderful occasion! Simplify in another area to cut out stress if you need to, but put in the effort to make this time of year a festive time. She refers here to the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany.

"May you all enjoy your post-Christmas celebrations. I know many of you keep going for the full twelve days. Learning to rejoice and celebrate is a real discipline that requires patience, stamina, practice, and endurance. So go for it! God must be pleased that we are making progress!"
Entire article here.

This man's parents gave extravagantly in every way and to everyone. It taught him and trained him in the delight of giving.

"I grew up in a family that practiced extravagant giving. In other words, when we woke up on Christmas morning, we could barely see the tree for all the presents. My parents overwhelmed us. Some would say that spoiled us. They gave physically, tangible gifts that we as children enjoyed: trains and guitars and dolls and forts and more. And yet, the giving was NOT a substitute for time. They gave time extravagantly as well. They played with us, told us stories, and listened to our stories.

They gave us so much, we couldn’t help but become givers. That’s right. The extravagance was not simply self-indulgence. It was celebration. It was an overflow of the joy they had in raising us. That joy continue to flow as we grew up. Our house became the center for all the lost friends and souls who had no where to go on Christmas (or any other holiday).

The party kept extending outward and inviting others into a celebration.

Did they give us too much? Of course (and they still do). In my parents, we learned the true intoxication of giving of everything. Presents, time, laughter, and life.

The answer to our outward culture’s selfishness is not inward selfishness (either in miserliness or in self-righteous judgment of those around us). Rather, it is in giving even more of our life, our love and our STUFF. Once we get the hang of it, giving is so fun that you can give anything away. Our hands open and we can freely give to the deserving (and undeserving), to the poor and needy, and even to the selfish."
Entire article here.

Being called to give things away, not give them up

"We do not give anything up. We are privileged often to give things away, including ourselves, but that is another activity entirely. When you give things up you are acting like a son of the devil—he is the father of lies, and he started with you. The lie here is that God is a grinch.

When you give things away, they always come back to you—thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold. When you give things away, there is a person on the other end, receiving. What you are giving is called a present. When you give presents, you are acting like God. When you give expensive presents, you are acting like God. When you give unreasonable presents, you are acting like God.

But when you give unreasonably like this, won’t you run out? No . . . the one who supplies seed to the sower will continue to supply you with all you need (2 Cor. 9:10). This is why we should be dedicated to learning how to give in order to get, in order to give again. Wisdom is needed here, but it is not a stingy wisdom."
Entire article here.
A historical view of Christmas here.
If you've seen Advent Conspiracy check out this response.
To pay off debt or celebrate Christmas? Both! Here is an article that might balance things out a bit. And if there really is NO money, then get creative and still have fun!


Tricia said...

Thanks for all these wonderful thoughts and ideas and musings. I haven't read all the articles, but I've bookmarked this entry for later today to check them out.

Brandy said...

I'm so glad that you like it so far, Tricia. I have loved gleaning from these articles. It helps me balance everything out. Have fun with your Christmas preparations!

Jennifer said...

Great stuff, Brandy! Thanks so much.