Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Saving the World This Advent and Beyond!

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent...well, pre-tax filing season. Everyone and their non-profit organization is clogging up our mailboxes, of both the electronic and snail mail variety. For many, this is the time of year to be extra generous. Okay, I suppose we are all called to be generously generous in this season as we anticipate the Lord's arrival...(except that we are called to be generous all.the.days because the Lord is always on His way).

How do we discern which of the many envelopes and emails we will open and or send money to, when there are so many worthy causes and organizations? This is where having a giving budget comes in handy. We can, through prayer, discern each month how much we feel called to give away. Some months money is tighter than others with cars dying, ambulance rides, furnace replacements and such, but we always have something to give. The Christmas season is no different. We are called to give generously, though I question if it is more so than any other time of the year, or just with more focus to the least of these around us as we have visions of mangers dancing through our heads.

At any rate, developing a budget is the first step. How much income do we anticipate receiving over these weeks? How much of that do we feel called to give away? Have these conversations before coming up with your Christmas budget (food, presents, decorations, etc). We give the Lord our first fruits, and Jesus reminds us over and over that He comes in distressing disguise as the "least of these" in our midst.

If you have organizations you give to on a regular basis, might you give a little more in this season of giving? Are there some organizations that you cannot commit regular donations to, but could possibly send a small gift to at Christmas? At most, pick five organizations/causes that your family chooses to support. I know when our children are older, my desire is to have each of us pick one organization dear to our hearts and then discern one as a whole family. Now if we have another handful of offspring, that might change, of course, but I digress... Remember that while it may be tempting to give to all the organizations, we are not actually called to save the whole world. Jesus already did. We are just called to discern how to be a part of His redeeming work.

Remember too, that money is not our only gift. Are there ways for your to extend your charity that does not involve the bank account? Get creative! Could you send homemade Christmas cards from the kids to area nursing homes? Could you offer to wrap presents for organizations that give away gifts as part of their Christmas giving? Might your family set a few extra places at the table for dinner or in your pew for Christmas to invite someone who is without family during this time, perhaps a widow or someone new to the area? Are there programs in your local jail or prison that allow you to send a card with a message of hope for someone who has lost their way?

While it is perhaps getting a little late in the game for some of these ideas, let's also not forget that Christmas, like Advent, is a full season, not just one day. If you haven't quite gotten to thinking about what you might do, there is still time! If it all seems overwhelming to coordinate before the end of the month, make Epiphany your goal (January 6th). Still overwhelming? Why not simply make a commitment to carry this spirit into the New Year? Spend this season picking one thing to do and/or an organization to help each month. Simply commit to sharing all year the joyous proclamation of the angels,
"But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’" Luke 2:10-14
Don't let the act of giving become a burden. Make it simple, but make a commitment. Most importantly, make it a habit to include the giving as part of your budget before the presents and festivities. At the end of your days, you won't be sorry.

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, Rakhi! I've been preaching this stuff for years; it's good to know that someone else is getting the message out to an even larger audience.