SPEND LESS (Gillian Fenske)
The statistics regarding how much money is spent on Christmas presents in North America is frightening. Horror stories of thousands of dollars in Christmas credit-card debt abound. There’s something really disturbing about the fact that we celebrate the birth of a Saviour who would probably give away more than He kept for Himself by buying excessive amounts of stuff. It’s enough to make you want to wash your hands of Christmas gifts altogether! But I think that, because of our consumer-driven culture, Christmas gifts have gotten a bad rap.
There is something really beautiful about giving a gift to someone you care about. “Receiving gifts” is even one of the five love languages! Gifts have always been a big deal in my family, but it was modeled for me that it is better to give than to receive. My mom always said that she felt more selfish when she got to give a gift because she got so much joy out of it. But how can we experience that joy while still spending less?
When I think about the best gifts I have received, they have – hands down – been the relational ones. The hand-painted sign my dad made to hang over my bed. The Little Golden Books friends hunted down for me in thrift shops (at something like fifty cents a piece) because they know I collect them. One year, instead of a bunch of gifts my mom bought me a sewing machine and it has provided hours of bonding with her over project ideas and sewing lessons. I try to make as many gifts as I have time for, and it has been a great experience. Not only am I spending less money, but I’m creating custom gifts that the recipients know took time and energy to pull together.
It’s certainly conceivable that a relational gift (things like tickets to a play or a hockey game, lessons or a trip you can take together) could cost more – but money spent on an experience like that is money well spent. And maybe, like my sewing machine, one big relational gift means not feeling the urge to give loads of gifts which will, sadly, likely be forgotten by January 25th.
Challenge (by Devon Wagler)
The Law of the Old Testament demands that justice can only be carried out in one way. Sin demands blood, that’s why the old system demanded so much sacrifice. The animals literally died, receiving the punishment the people deserved.
We may not believe that people deserve death for everything, but we look at justice in the same way. You do something wrong and you deserve punishment for it. The justice that Christ brought was different because he simply took that punishment we deserve. It’s not what anyone would have expected. How can we show this kind of grace this Christmas?
“It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.” (Eileen Elias Freeman)