Posted by: Mark | December 7, 2009

Christmas giving

I love to give gifts at Christmas – especially to my kids. It is a joy to see Lydia give a big smile as she realizes something is for her and she can play with it (although this will be the first Christmas where that is a reality). It is also fun to see Ewan jump from foot to foot as he anticipates each new gift.

However, one concern that Louise and I always have is that our kids grow up knowing how blessed and fortunate they are. It is also a concern of mine that I continue to realize how rich, fortunate and blessed I am. It is challenging for me to think about stewardship and wastefulness at this time of year.

Recently I was made aware of a site called Advent Conspiracy which has an interesting angle on this whole issue of giving at Christmas. They do not encourage people to stop giving to friends and family. They do, however, ask us some interesting questions – and they have a really cool video.

Also for sometime I have used and encouraged others to use alternative gifts when buying for people who have it all – which lets face it is most of us. Check out the World Vision alternative gift site for some great gift ideas.

The last site and thought I want to leave with you is one which has troubled me for a while. I read some of this on the Advent Conspiracy site and also on the Living Water International site. Did you know that you can give a child water for a year for around $1? And to contrast that, did you know that around every 15 seconds a child dies because of lack of clean water? And to further contrast that, did you know that for around $10 billion the world’s water problem could be solved? And one final thought, Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas last year and the UK will spend an estimated extra £15 billion on take home lager sales during the world cup in 2010.

My prayer this year at Christmas is not that we don’t have a good time and enjoy ourselves. It is not that we don’t give gifts to family and friends and enjoy their reactions as they see how we thought about them. It is not that we don’t enjoy a rest from work. My prayer is that as rich western Christians we realize that to whom much has been given much will be expected (Luke 12.48). My prayer is that we realize that our efforts make a difference and when we care for those who are hungry we bless Christ (Matthew 37.40). My prayer is that we realize that true religion is not the practice of tradition but the care of the poor (James 1.27).

God change our hearts and make us compassionate (Matthew 15.32, Ephesians 4.32, Colossians 3.12, 1 Peter 3.8).

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