Posts Tagged ‘giving’

Advent 2: Gifts

This evening our church hosted a Mission Fair for the weekly children’s program.  Church members made displays describing what $1 or $5 could buy for a charitable agency, and children “shopped” the charities and made their donations.

One boy was shocked when he visited the medical mission display.  His mother said, “Look, two dollars buys a vaccine for a little boy or girl so they will stay healthy.  A vaccine is a shot.”  The boy’s mouth dropped, as if to say, people pay for shots?

Sometimes the best gifts are not exactly what we had hoped for, and sometimes the best gifts cost little if any money.  What a gift, to be free from a disease that could prematurely end your life.  However, in the eyes of a child, the syringe doesn’t look much like a gift!

What good gifts have you received?  What good gifts may you be missing now because you have trouble believing they are true?

Advent Week 1: Santa Claus

The beginning of Advent brings up some questions of home décor.  (Seriously!)  Truthfully, most folks are in the habit of making their homes look festive with a mixture of Santas, Nativity scenes, reindeer, snowflakes, and the like.  Our Christmas tree has Santa ornaments along with whatever other ornaments we’ve accumulated over the years.

Yet most folks are also in the habit of griping about how Christ isn’t really in Christmas.  It’s tough to be a Christian in our consumer culture!

It may be theological nonsense, but my husband and I decided that we’d try to navigate our way through the mess by getting back to the roots of Santa Claus.  We decided that if Santa is loosely based on the original St. Nicholas, a man who saved a family through an anonymous donation, that we’d make Santa into “Jesus’ helper.”  For that matter, we’d make our whole family into Jesus’ helpers.  Anyone can give gifts to God’s children:  Santa, you, or me.  So we’ll see how that works out.

When our daughter gets older, I’ll tell her the story of her great-great-great-grandfather, who got the people in his western North Carolina church together to give a gift to needy children during the Advent or Christmas season.  His gifts were simple:  walnuts, oranges, apples, perhaps penny candy.  Yet to those kids who subsisted on beans and corn and old cabbage, the taste of an orange must have been magical.

My family continued the “treat bags” at the family Christmas gathering until recently, when my grandfather passed away.  I’d love to start this tradition again, but I’m not sure if today’s kids would be fascinated by an orange!  Perhaps there is a way to tweak it.

I’ll also take her to a Moravian love feast some Christmas Eve, if there is one nearby.  Some of my ancestors were part of this beautiful tradition, in which church members serve the congregation, members and visitors alike.  Each person in attendance receives a sweet roll infused with cinnamon and orange, a cup of hot spiced coffee, and a beeswax candle wrapped in red crepe paper.  I hope I can teach her about service as she watches faithful Christians serve her.

May the gifts we give point to Jesus’ love and grace, which he gives in abundance.

P.S.  More Advent blogs can be found here, affiliated with one of my favorite sites, The High Calling.