Consumerism. This is the time of year for hyped up Consumerism. Christmas, culturally divorced from its origins as a Holy celebration of the incarnation, of God Emmanuel, God with us, sharing with us, giving Gods very self to us to be with us, to live with us, walk with us, and give to us the most valuable gift ever given; this celebration of giving which our culture has not embraced, complete separated from its sacred roots is nothing more than a great give-fest, a gift fest, a purchasing frenzy. It is a celebration of heightened consumerism wrapped in a pretty the wrapping, we call gifting, and tied with the bow of altruism. It is a bent twisted, through the looking glass imitation of what we, as adherents Christ’s faith.
In an attempt to make our celebration of the incarnation, we are bucking the system, we are pulling away from bent twisted version of what we feel is the heart of this season. This is a season of giving, a celebration of giving but a giving which reflects the greatest giver and the greatest gift and not that which seems to be the consumeristic giving which is the waters in which we must swim at this time of year.
Now don’t get me wrong. Christianity is not about NOT giving. We are challenging each other this year to spend less, to think about what we are spending, and why we are spending it. We are in out attempt to break out of the consumerism which surrounds us to free ourselves from the need to spend so much at this time of the year, to stop purchasing gifs simple to purchase gifts, to not feel that the heart of the season is grounded in our ability to spend.
But we are not calling for us all to stop giving. Giving is at the heart of we are as Christians. We believe in giving and calling for our people to be giving people. Give, give, give, after all, that is what our world believes is all Churches care about. And in many ways that IS all we care about. Christianity is a religion which calls for its adherents to live lives of giving, giving of all they are, over to God; giving to one another to help and support, to encourage and love, to give back to the world around us, give to the world out of the love which God has given to us. We are a religion of giving. In fact giving is one of the many ways in which we express what it means to love God and love neighbor as we are called to.
This month we have been exploring the different themes of the Advent conspiracy. Thus far we have explored what it means to Worship Fully, and Spend Less. This week we are exploring what it means to Give More. God IS as giving God, a God who gives Big, gives Personally and gives Valuably.
This is a short passage, it says a lot without saying much at all.
What does this passage tell us about God?
In what ways is God giving in this passage?
What is God giving? How is God giving?
What or who is the light? What does it mean for a light to shine in the darkness?
What does it mean for the darkness to overcome light? What does it mean for light to not be overcome by darkness?
What does this passage tell us about Christ?
Give Big – God gave of Godself, God gave the Son, God gave Christ. Emmanuel!!! God with us
This is not about not giving, or just giving a little bit. God gave big, if we truly believe that the giving we give at this time of the year is a reflection of the giving God who gave us Christ
Give Personally – God gave of Godself! This is not impersonal giving, this is not purchasing a gift and then figuring out who to give it to, come on we have all done it. This is thinking giving of ones’ very self. God gave that which was most personal. Our giving should reflect that. Our gifts should be personal, they should cost US something, and often times, money is easily giving, easily spent but giving a gift which costs US something of ourselves, of our time, is often more valuable than anything on which we could spend money.
Give Valuably – Although Christ cost God much to give to us. The giving of the Son changed the God head forever it changed he nature of God in ways that we will perhaps never know or truly understand. But what God gave to us is valuable. Christ is worth much. God thought about the gift given to humanity, God did not just give us something, but God gave us exactly what we needed, exactly that which would be most valuable to us. The gift of Christ holds value in the very nature of what is given.
Our gifts, if they are truly a celebration and reflection of the gift given to us should likewise be valuable. What we give should be valuable. They can cost us much without really costing us anything. The very act of giving should be thought out. What are we giving? Is it valuable to me? Is it valuable to the one receiving it? Where does it come from? How did it get from where it began to me? Do I care about who or how it was made? Does that change its value? Think about your gifts, where they come from, their value to you, their value to the receiver. A valuable gift takes all these things into account and are given accordingly.