Monday, December 17, 2007

Advent Conspiracy III: Give More

Living With Less So We Can Give More

Philippians 2:5-7
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

Restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption.

Live the Christmas story. Enter it. Scanning the horizon for the Messiah. Joseph. Mary. God the Father reaching out to us, you & I!

Main characters in the story. Good & bad. What’s the point? The plot line?

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one & only son..."

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."

"He shall save us from our sins."

Your life this next year is a movie poster. What’s the tag line? Is it living Philippians 2?

Imagine this one: “This year Stew is going to try & get a Volvo.”

Imagine going to a movie to watch this story unfold. Not very interesting & compelling, right? The next 2 hours are all about getting the car. Very last scene Stew drives away with a Volvo. Are you weeping at this? Are you moved to give your life away in pursuit of the Volvo? If Stew can get a Volvo I can get one, too! I can help a poor salesperson meet their quota this year and get a bonus? Yahoo!

The best stories have some risk & a deep meaning or purpose. The best stories aren’t safe. Advent isn’t safe. Ask the parents of murdered babies in Bethlehem if it’s safe.

“Christianity agrees… that this universe is at war. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel. Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery.” C.S. Lewis

I've never heard a sermon on the Tenth Commandment. We can't possibly preach on "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's goods” because Western society is based on that. In our culture, people cannot feel good about themselves unless next year's vacation is more luxurious than last year's, unless everything is upgraded—while most of God's people on this earth starve. Richard Rohr

"I don't believe that God chose you and blessed you so that you could heap those blessings upon yourself. I believe God chose you because He wants to make a difference in this world. And you know what? What I think is scary about God is He didn't come up with any 'plan B.' That He left the church here, and the church is the only group of people and the church is the only institution in the world that can bring about a change." Rich Mullins

I cannot tell you anything that, in a few minutes, will tell you how to be rich. But I can tell you how to feel rich, which is far better, let me tell you firsthand, than being rich. Be grateful . . . It’s the only totally reliable get-rich-quick scheme. Ben Stein, actor, comedian, economist

Gratitude is a key in order to find yourself as a ‘giver’. The ungrateful don’t or won’t give; & if they do it’s grudgingly. The Bible says, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.’

Secular psychologists like Dr. Robert Brooks & Dr. Sam Goldstein have written of this fact:

How best to counteract the holidays being associated primarily with receiving gifts? I believe one powerful antidote to commercialism is for families to engage in charitable activities. As Sam Goldstein and I have conveyed in our writings about resilience, an activity that contributes to a feeling of well-being, to a sense of purpose and compassion, and to resilience is when we provide assistance to others or to our community. We believe that there is an inborn need for children to help others. As parents, we must find ways to nurture and satisfy this need in our sons and daughters. The more we can become charitable families and involve our children in activities in which they are enhancing the lives of others, the more they will come to appreciate that the holiday season is not just about receiving, but, more importantly, about giving to others. There are many avenues through which a family can display its compassion and charity, such as collecting food or clothing for those less fortunate, or delivering meals for the elderly, or going to a store and purchasing and donating a toy to a charity to distribute to needy children.

In my workshops I have noted that the main vocabulary for many children involve the words, "Gimme me, gimme me, gimme me." Lecturing to them about how self-centered they are is likely to have little positive effect. Instead, we must provide them with opportunities to enrich the lives of others. I realize that even if children engage in what we call "contributory activities," they will still want things for themselves, but at least they will experience the joy of assisting others. Dr. Robert Brooks

Lets enter the story. How are we giving more?

Question the quantity and necessity of our purchases.

When you make yourself available to God to Worship More, he’ll create opportunities. When we ask him to help us Spend Less, opportunities will arise. When we ask to be able to Give More- they’ll be there.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

The consumerism that surrounds the celebration of Jesus’ birth is particularly curious when we contrast it with his teachings on possessions.

“Don’t blame the darkness for being dark. Blame the light for not shining into it.”

Relational giving. How often do we buy stuff to show people that we love them & care about them but in reality they would prefer something from our heart? What if we took time to write a note of encouragement to them, or to spend time or to create something especially for them. Time is money so let's buy a gift card instead.

Giving is not dependent on the condition of your checkbook. Giving is dependent on the condition of your heart.

If I had wanted something easy & pain free, I would have chosen a bottle of wine over Jesus. C. S. Lewis

There are two worlds. One where people are poor. The other where people have money to buy things.

What if we spent some time this next year figuring out how we could leverage our giftedness & relational connections to help give more to those in need because Jesus first did that for us?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

good stuff, thought and action provoking

6:41 PM  

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