Although it's not even December yet, the first Sunday of Advent has come and gone. We had a lovely Hanging of the Greens service at church in which our oldest got to be a "star" (Literally, he wore a big foil star and ran down the front aisle then plopped himself down on the bench by Mary who looked at him like, "What are you doing here?") Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both come and gone (mostly just gone in our household where homeade Christmas presents are going to be the theme this low-budget year). Many folks have trees up, gifts wrapped and calendars set for the season. It kind of makes you wonder, "What's left?"
To counter some of the materialism and commercialism and secularism surrounding our "Winter Holidays", we've started a new Advent campaign at church focused around James Moore's book, Christmas Gifts That Won't Break, a focus on the power of hope, love, peace and joy brought into the world through the birth of Jesus. Signs are up throughout the church reminding us that "Christmas is not YOUR birthday!" Our key question this season is, "What are you going to give to Christ this Christmas?" In our congregation, we have set a goal to raise over $5,000 on Christmas Eve to purchase a Heifer International Gift Ark, which will help to support sustainable living for hundreds of people living in impoverished communities. Yet, there are so many other opportunities and ways to give gifts to the one whose birth we celebrate, or should celebrate, this season. As we move into this season of giving, I would challenge you to consider what you are going to give to Christ this season.
Yet more than that, my challenge to myself is to recognize Christ in this season. I've been reading a study of Luke recently and have been struck again by the fact that so many who had a meaningful encounter with Jesus recognized him for who he was. Mary and Joseph accepted the news that their son was the Son with incredible grace and humility. Faithful Simeon and Anna were blessed to see the Christ-child God had promised to send and recognized him immediately as the Son of God. Even John, in Elizabeth's womb, jumped for joy at hearing Mary's voice while she carried Jesus within her. This unborn child recognized the Son of God before either of them had taken breath.
So, here's what I want this Christmas to be about: 1) Recognizing Christ in the world and 2) giving to others in a way that gives a birthday gift to Christ.
What are your goals for this season?
Blessings and Peace,