Monday, December 10, 2012

What is giving all about today?

Gift #1 - Christmas

"I don't mind Christmas.  It's just all the shopping that makes me crazy!"

"Well, we didn't want to worry about celebrating during the crazy time with all the parties and concerts so we are planning on our Christmas party some time in January."

"I don't think we can give extra because we have all the gifts to buy this month."

These are the things I have heard from friends, neighbors, co-workers. 

And don't think our family is immune to the lack of Christmas spirit.  Oh, I thought we were when I heard this:

"I don't want any gifts this year," 

Oh, what a sweet sound to a proud mama's ears, but wait for it...wait for it...

" gifts, just money!"

Of course you do.

I know Christmas is about giving gifts to celebrate the most awesome gift of all, but why do we think it has to be the all encompassing part of Christmas.  Is there another way?

When I was a kid, I got one big gift that was actually usually from Santa (Why my parents let him get the credit for the good ones, I still wonder) and several smaller ones.

We had simple requests because we had less of a chance to compare with others.  Of course I might see the new purse my friend got, but there was no internet to see the hundreds, no thousands of purses I could be asking for.

 We were not lacking, but yet, we never I felt got too much. 

(Of course I didn't...I was a kid and probably still wanted more).

But today, it just feels all wrong.  Something is off with the heart of Christmas. 

When people are complaining of celebrating because of too much time spent on finding gifts, too much money spent on getting gifts, and too much time spent actually spent celebrating Christmas, something is lost.

I want to blame it on technology, but technology just helped me this evening find several facts about Woolly Mammoths for a report for my daughter so I can't shoot the messenger.

I want to blame it on the schedule we keep in order to keep up with sports, dance, church, serving.  But the truth is we all have the same amount of time.  It is just what we do with that time.

So, I need to blame it on myself.  What I have allowed giving to become in my heart.  I have allowed the fleeting happiness of a Wild West Sharp Shooter to replace eternal joy that my children might experience because they have sacrificed for another.

I have not given them enough credit to thoroughly approach the subject of not giving gifts to each other and instead use that money for others in need because really, those are the gifts that we can give to Jesus.  We have mentioned it before, but not really decided to have a paradigm shift in our family.

To give a family in Africa a flock of chicks for $20.00.  To give a child in the apartments your dollhouse.  To give a child his food for a year.

These are the catalogs we need to pour over:

the Compassion Catalog, Samaritan’s Purse Catalog, Partner’s International Catalog, World Vision Catalog

What will they say?

What will you?

My readers, will you pray as we search for what giving instead of getting means in our family?

It will be a tender lesson for us all. 

For the first time I casually brought it up, I heard,

"No presents, that is okay...Santa will just give us stuff." 

Clearly we have not gotten the message of  Biblical giving quite yet...

Stay tuned for the results of our family meeting.

And as I think of this,

I know gifts are not wrong.  God is the giver of perfect gifts.

I will start  counting my gifts of which #1 is our Christmas.

I look forward to naming to even more...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crazy Little Thing Called Dinner

We recently went to an instrumental concert that played synthesized music incorporated with the Christmas Choruses that we love to hum, sing, and whisper quietly at night to sleeping babies.

This particular concert also had a video accompanying the music in order to (I guess) enhance the music.

Some of the videos were beautiful: candles lit on a dark night and one by one lighting up the room with the flickers of fire, snow covered trees with ice skaters gracefully moving while we swayed with them.

Some of the videos were a little more random: the sad drummer boy that never came back from the war, the psychedelic wisps of smoke that looked more like the lawn of a Woodstock concert. Groovy!

But there was one video that actually kept replaying throughout the concert.  It was of a medieval feast and it showed the men and women greedily eating the food all the while entertaining themselves with the artists of that time.  And I realized during that video, that really, my dinner is not much different.

We have the same cast of characters, just a little different attire:

Joker: Jumping into the feast with his flips and juggling act, I think of my child who loves to make us laugh, gets up during the meal in order to show one more trick he has learned that day. I thank God for his smile.

Dancer: Gracefully moving while her beauty is beheld, I think of my child who is growing more in ladylike beauty and gracefully guides little ones in her life. I thank God for her love.

Knight:  Quietly sitting back and yet will come to the dance if needed, I think of my child who sits back to speak his word and yet all the while encouraging the others with his laugh and encouragement. I thank God for his kindness.

Sword Swallower: Defying all sense of what is real and courageously goes on his own, I think of my child who lives in the light of pretend where kisses and Mickeys still exist in a little boy's heart. I thank God for his goodness.

And then I move on to me...what character do I play in this musical?

Sometimes I am the princess, on those days when I remember that I am the daughter of a king.
Sometimes I am the cook, feeding my little ones goodness.
Sometimes I am the gymnast, juggling carpools, homework, and my patience at times.

But sometimes, I do not want to be a character.  I don't want to enter the dance.  I don't want to eat the food.  I want to stay up in my high tower and be alone.  Waiting for the King.  My time to hear his whispers of how much He loves me.  And from that high tower, I will see a little baby being born. Crying in the night wrapped in a rough cloth and in the still night.  And if I listen hard enough, those cries of life will turn into cries of death for soon that baby will die for me.  The rough cloth being torn.  And the feast will be over.  The night will be still.

But then...

 the music plays and the light shines on for the Son of Man will rise and live again.

And I will join that dance, for he died and rose so I could be a part of that dance.
That feast.
This life.

What character are you in this feast of life today?