The holidays have arrived, and that brings the good and bad out in our communities.
We just spent a beautiful day of Thanksgiving, reflecting on the wonderful ways God has blessed us - and then comes Black Friday - the most disgusting of consumerist days. On the late news Thanksgiving night, the title below a report actually read "Black Friday Eve" ? What?! Anyway, it was a special report about the rioting outside the local mall, as tens of thousands of people were waiting in sub-freezing temperatures to be the first inside to commence the shopping.
Don't get me wrong here, if you were there or if you participated in Black Friday shopping, there's no condemnation there. The thing that gets me a bit fiery is realizing that Americans have become blind - not only to what Christmas is actually about, but blind to the world around us.
By focusing on the "obligatory" gift-giving, we've completely lost focus on what Jesus was born into this world to accomplish. Jesus spent a lot of time acting on the words He spoke - He recognized the errors of the time and a lot of those are the same today. If you believe something, you act like you believe it.
If you truly believe that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus' birth, how can we justify the commercialism and false generosity it's become? I'm not saying "don't buy gifts", I'm not even saying "don't play Santa Claus", an I'm certainly not saying "do not have any fun... Christmas is serious". What I am suggesting is that we do something meaningful this time around.
I've challenged our small group and now I'm challenging you. Pray about what they have to give - I won't guide you here, God knows what you have and what you can give. Pray with your spouse and come to an agreement about what that gift will be. Then pray and see what you're supposed to do with it, and who you can bless. It might be a sacrifice of time, finances, energy ... but the person God leads you to will be blessed. This shouldn't take away, but enhance your traditional family Christmas.
The only direction I will give is this: Give your gift.. in person. Reach out to someone and give to them. Try to avoid a charitable organization this time around (not because they're bad, but because that's not the point of this exercise). Give generously and spread the love of Jesus! And if you would, I'd love to hear all the stories of blessing your neighborhood or community.
Finally - Jesus spoke candidly with His followers concerning our action here on earth... Matthew 25
" I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.
I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of those things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me!"
Let's stop "believing, but being inactive" and start putting our faith in action!