Friday, December 23, 2011

We Aren't Giving Each Other Gifts This Year, Part 2

I shared yesterday that we aren't giving each other any presents this Christmas. Not even stockings. And we are thrilled to do it. You can read more about how God lead us through our 6 year old's discomfort at receiving gifts on Jesus' birthday in my last post... but here's where we left off: How can we give Jesus gifts on His birthday??? Though there's an obvious celebration we have as we eat cake, sing, read his birth story, remember Him, and seek hIm together, what about giving a gift? Here's the answer God gave Andy and I as we sought Him:

 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”(Matthew 25:35-40 

We give to Jesus by giving to the least of His people. We’ve been praying and looking at ways to do this all advent. We’ve given toys, donated to salvation Army, spent our “eat out” money on extended family to show our love for them instead of on ourselves, helped the Children’s home with food from our pantry, we caroled in our neighborhood twice with neighbors and with some church friends passing out candy and encouraging lonely neighbors, we offered a pregnant missionary wife whose husband is overseas dinner and a movie night with us, etc… It’s been incredible to see how God has lead us… through a child… and how creatively we’ve been able to give even in a leaner financial season. 
Giving to Jesus by donating a well to a church in Africa...
This Christmas Eve night and Christmas morning, we feel like God is giving us an opportunity to seek Him, delight in him, celebrate His coming and give Him presents of ourselves. This year, we aren't giving each other any gifts. Not even stockings. Instead, Jimmy and Caleb get to look through a gift catalog from a ministry we love called Gospel for Asia to help meet needs of the poor and let them help us pick what gifts our family will “give to Jesus” on His birthday. It isn't a new idea. We know many who have lived this for years. But it is new to us. We have spent years trying to "redeem" our consumerism to point our kids to Jesus and now feel so free to experience Him in this real and raw way that needs no redemption. We are SO very excited, maybe the kids the most, and I feel so thankful that God used our 6 year old in such a big way to reshape our celebration.

We’re praying about how it may shape our years to come… and whether maybe we’ll just have our birthdays be the time we give/receive cool gifts throughout the year and then skip gifts for each other completely every Christmas. Will we take down our tree with cheesy Eeyore ornaments and let our Jesse Tree branch with Jesus reminders and nativity be the decorative focus to stay our hearts on Jesus for our future Christmas seasons? We just don’t know yet (though we lean that way), but now we are praying about where/how God may lead us so that every little thing we do now and in future celebrations is for the glory of Him and our delight in Him. And we're thrilled at how He is turning our hearts away from our selfish greed and towards Jesus and others... and all through a child. Isn't that His way!?! What a sweet Christmas gift.

By the Way: Here's a link to the Gift catalog we'll be giving from. Gospel for Asia is an amazing ministry and 100% of your gift goes to those in need.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:3-11

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