Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Season of Giving

Yesterday was Black Friday and Gess noticed that "name" for the first time, so we had our first lesson in what that day is all about: finding a good sale for Christmas presents.  While finding a good bargain is not a bad thing, I also reminded Gess that around the holidays we need to remember to stay focused on the spirit of the holiday.  If we want to show real "thanks" the day after Thanksgiving, we should give of our surplus to those in need instead of trying to get more "stuff" for ourselves.  Of course I didn't stop her from buying a game she wanted that was on sale, and I picked up a small item or two myself, but we did so with a thankful heart while avoiding the frenzy of the crowds.

Our favorite Christmas project is Operation Christmas Child where you pack a shoe box full of gifts and send it to needy kids around the globe.  They even have a method where you can pay online and find out where your box lands.  The last 2 years ours ended up in Mexico.  I am assuming the Wichita packing center will probably ship that direction most of the time, but we keep tracking and will find out either way.  What's neat about this project is that it starts in October and ends in mid November because they need time to get the packages there by Christmas so it really gives an early start to making Christmas about sharing with others.  Here is Gess packing her two boxes.  We usually try to do 2 each year, one boy and one girl her age.  This year we packed for two boys because we found a really good deal on some nice shirts for them.

Now Gess has some things she wants for Christmas and there is nothing wrong with getting presents, but I do think here in America we can scale down and make it less commercial.  I shared the Advent Conspiracy video last year but this one is updated and has a different focus.   Instead of raising awareness about water it reminds us that there are people in need of freedom.  Do you know there are more slaves today than at any other time in human history?  What an outrage!  The International Justice Mission is an organization that actually works to free slaves and give those who become free the after care they need.  You might recall that I wrote about a book they published called The Just Church which talks about ways the church can get involved in justice ministries.  Here is a video to get you thinking about some great ways to make Christmas more about giving to others and less about stuff.  I think it's pretty powerful.

[AC] Promo 2012 - International Justice Mission from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

The International Justice Mission is a great way to help bring freedom to those in bondage.  As I mentioned last year there are also some great ministries that bring freedom to women and then teach them trades so they can earn a living.  Purchasing products from them is a great way to both give to loved ones and help those in need.  Our church hosted a party by Rahab's Rope last year.  They have some beautiful jewelry and craft items made by women in India.

There are many good organizations out there to give to, the important thing is that we remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Gess seems to be learning that lesson and for that I am thankful.

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