I know, it's a little early to talk about Christmas.
But it's not. Christmas time sneaks up on us, and suddenly, it's December, and there's a trillion things to do, host, shop for, wrap, bake, and oh, by the way, worship the God of the universe.
That doesn't seem to work for me.
So for the past few years, we've been really thinking through the CHRISTmas season, and trying to make it more and more of what it should be.
Every family has different ideas on how to do this.
But one that I have to throw out there: spend less. SPEND LESS!
My brother, Chris, started a beautiful campaign called Advent Conspiracy with Living Water (an organization we love that drills wells all over the world bringing clean drinking water and life to whole villages of people, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus, bringing real life at the same time! Read more about it on their website.) My brothers have been heavily involved with Living Water, and they are on to something.
This short video will get you thinking about how we do Christmas here in America.
So Rusty and I are committing to spending less, and giving more to further the Kingdom of Christ. We are going to be making hand-made, thoughtful gifts to our friends and family, keeping it simple with our kids, and giving money in it's place to Living Water. Last year, I made meals for my parents and put them in their freezer as their Christmas gift. They both work full-time, so they appreciated that. I've made fleece tie blankets for family members, and they loved it! There are so many things we can do that cost less, and mean more.
We have already started talking about it with our kids in preparation for this season. In fact, my kids loved this video. It inspired them.
Making homemade gifts will take time and planning on my part. Would it be easier to run around like a crazy woman the day after Thanksgiving and buy a bunch of junk instead? Probably. But if I start now and plan carefully, my kids and I will enjoy this much more, and it will mean more on our end. Will people feel jipped by us on Christmas day? I don't know. But it only costs $1000.00 in some parts of the world to bring an entire village clean water and give them life, so I'm thinking they won't be feeling jipped. Most of us spend much more than a thousand dollars on Christmas gifts yearly.
Most importantly, we have to break free from the greed that grabs hold of us and put all our love and worship on the King. Ephesians 4 says that a greedy person is really an idolator, loving the things of this world. You know how God felt about idol worship? Read the Old Testament! It's generally frowned upon! And no matter how we dress it up, the way we spend and expect material things in the name of Jesus' birthday is greed in it's purest form.
There's nothing wrong with gifts. There's nothing wrong with giving as an expression of love. But there is something heinous about the way we go into debt at Christmas time just to keep up with the expectation of excessive gift giving.
So let's re-focus...check out this video, and look into Advent Conspiracy. This is something your whole church can commit to, and make an eternal difference.
Also, something I'm doing, is thinking ahead to the things that stress me out in December, and trying to pre-emptively accomplish those things early.
For example, a mass mail-out of Christmas cards. That gets me every time. So I've already ordered my early holiday photo cards and will send them out in advance. (BTW, Winflash.com has a great deal running right now!)
My hope is that this season is less about stress...less about stuff...and more about worship, rest, and reflection. I want more than anything to honor Christ in that way.
If you have any other ideas on how you and your family do this, let me know! I want to hear them! (OH, and my sister-in-law, Liz, who is brilliant with gifts, has some great ideas on her blog and recommends Martha Stewart's new holiday magazine for awesome creative ideas.)