Photos of Bucky in full finery were requested — I aim to please.
Hello, friends! Some of you may know that John and I are BIG fans of Adam Hamilton. We worship online with Church of the Resurrection every Sunday in addition to our local church, and we never cease to learn from and be inspired by his messages. Last year, I was moved to post 25 acts of kindness after listening to one of his sermons. (Here’s the list — we’ll be doing some of these this year, and I still think it’s a GREAT way to shine a light outward this season!)
Last year, COR’s Christmas season campaign encouraged members to give a Christmas Eve offering equal to the amount they spent on Christmas gifts. John and I were inspired by the boldness of this challenge, and ended up making a larger-than-anticipated offering ourselves. (Most churches give away their Christmas Eve offering to a particular cause — for example, COR splits theirs between building wells in Africa and working with low-income schools in Kansas City, and our church gives it to one of our main missions, Zoe.) We eagerly awaited the results of COR’s offering, knowing it was going to be exciting, but we were still blown away when they reported raising $1.2 million in one night — far surpassing the previous year’s amount of $650k. I actually cried when they announced it, I was so moved. Isn’t it amazing what God’s people can do when they lean into what He is calling them to?
We immediately set the goal of giving away as much as we spent on Christmas gifts in 2013 (in addition to our normal pledge). There are so many ways to be generous, selfless, and un-materialistic at Christmas, but there are a few reasons why I particularly love this way:
1) It infuses the spirit of Christmas back into our giving, and gifting. This way, they’re not two separate things — they’re interconnected. As we shop and plan, we keep in mind that we have three ways to meet our goal: we can either a) reduce the amount we spend on gifts, b) increase the amount we give, or c) do a little of both. It reminds us that there are trade-offs for every choice we make with our money.
2) It doesn’t require us to stop giving gifts. I LOVE giving gifts! I love selecting things the people I love will love, something that will make their lives a little happier or prettier or easier. I love supporting small businesses, and making handmade goodies, and I also LOVE wrapping presents.
3. It allows us to tell a new story. Signing on for this might require you to make some changes in the way you’ve traditionally given gifts — I know it did for us — which provides an opportunity to explain why you’re making said changes. We’re planning to include a little card with our gifts that says something along the lines of, “This is only half of your present! We also made a donation in your honor to help empower kids in Africa.” What story are you telling with your life? I want my story to be about generosity. I want it to spread light in the world. I want it to be about something much larger than ME.
4) It’s legitimately exciting! For me, it was an almost giddy feeling to drop that check in the offering plate on Christmas Eve. There’s something exciting about being “counter-cultural” and saying YES to what matters most in a tangible way. I believe God’s messengers are everywhere, in everyone… in you and in me. He’s just waiting for us to step into our role, and there’s nothing more exciting than making a small move in that direction.
And then there’s this:
Christmas starts with the poor and the nobodies. I think part of the reason God sent the angels to the shepherds first is because they didn’t have anything to celebrate. Let’s start with them. Let’s invite them to Christmas. We can celebrate every day if we want, and we have lots of reasons to celebrate. But to celebrate Christmas the way God celebrates it, we must start with the poor and the nobodies.
(That’s from Adam. See why we like him?)
In what ways are you planning to make light shine in the darkness for someone else this season? Would you consider joining in this challenge? Whether or not you think you can do it this year, I would love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. It turns out that after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, today has been termed Giving Tuesday. Appropriate, no?