Thursday, December 09, 2010

Whose Birthday is it Really?---Please read this blog post from another family!

I t’sbeen over ten years of nothing under the Christmas tree here.
Strange, the way children teach men.
It was dark, I do remember that. Bedtime. Smoothing back hair, kissing foreheads. On round moon hanging large outside the window, an ornament dangling off stars, decorating the night. I had gifts to wrap. So, pull up the blankets. Prayers. And then, when I’m at the door, one hand on the doorframe, resting in the light of the hallway, I turn to close the door a bit on the dark and he stops me with just one question:
“What does Jesus get for His birthday?”
The words hung… strung me up.
I say the words into the black. Um… A cake? Our love?
I can hear him turn again in the bed, roll over on the pillow. Restless…
“But Mom…. if we get wrapped presents for our birthdays, real sacrifices from people who love us — they gave up other things to give something to us — then why don’t we do that for Jesus’ birthday?”
I stand at the door looking into all that light cast down the hallway.
Why is the sky blue, why do we blink, how do clouds hold all that water, the children ask me a thousand questions and the world spins dizzy on a million questions I don’t know the answers to and I stand in the dark, the light right there, and I grope for the answer that could change the world…

“Why don’t we give up things so we can give to Jesus for His birthday?”

Is it always this way, that a little child will lead them?
He was four or five that year, I can’t remember. I just know that now he’s fifteen and I stepped out into the light and we’ve done all the Christmases since his way, giving away. It’s not at all wrong to do it differently, but just for us… all the Christmas gifts — gifts for the Christ Child.
I shamefully confess I thought it would somehow make me sad. I am a very slow learner.

How could I have thought that only love under the tree would do anything but make our happiness

The Birthday Child tells us what He wants: Give to the least of these and you give to Me. So this is how we do it: We pick out gifts from His gift catalogues — Compassion CatalogSamaritan’s Purse CatalogPartner’s International Catalog,World Vision Catalog,Gospel for Asia Catalog, and MCC Catalog.
It happens after breakfast, each day for the last two weeks of Advent, selecting one gift for He who is Christmas. They flip pages, deciding on what to give Him today:
“Anyone think we should get a pair of rabbits today?”
“I was thinking mosquito nets. Two. I wouldn’t want to die of malaria.”
“If we buy a seed packet for a family, our gift is tripled. Did you read the story on page 25 about what a difference it makes for an orphan family to have seeds? The little girl said, ‘Life is much better with food.’”
“Why are you crying, Mama?”
“Oh, just thinking…  how life really is much better with food…”
I’m sitting at the table with the kids all bent over The King’s Catalogues when I finally get what the kids already know: I’d rather only fill a child’s tummy than fill my house with anymore things.

Maybe that’s always the only choice we have to make every Christmas: feed our own fickle wishes or feed the real hunger of Christ?

Nothing can be claimed, taken, received, had; everything we have is gift to us from heaven. All that we have has no other source but the hand of God (Jn 3:27).
So “Christian hands never clasp and He doesn’t give us gifts for our gain because a gift can never stop being a gift— it is always meant to be given.”
When we pass our gifts on — the gifts from Him remaining a gift and being given again — we are the ones given even more of the source of all gifts — more of God Himself. Filled.
When we give to Christ in the hungry, He satisfies our own hunger pangs.
A decade of this, our little family turning the Christmas tree upside down and letting gifts all fall into the hands of the poor and some thought it too strange, all this with no bows under the tree and I really understood but we couldn’t stop seeing just this, Him hanging on a tree. It’s just the way He’s just spoken to us, that’s all.
And then yesterday, my Dad, he stood in our kitchen, his hand on the counter, his farm coveralls still on, him just driving by, and he said it quiet, “I think this year — we shouldn’t do gifts as a family.”  He looked up at me. My eyebrows arched. He understood?
“I was thinking that this year — maybe we should just all go together — and see if we can help drill a well in Africa.”
And that one boy now fifteen, who asked a question that answered everything, he turns to me, his smile lighting the room and all the world.

 We just loved this. It was sent to us by some dear friends in the Lord. I read it twice to the children and twice to Glenn and every time I cried buckets. How could we be so greedy to think that we need more "stuff", when there are starving people all over the world??

So, before God and the witness of our dear family, we decided to follow suite with this family, and to take all of the money that we would have spent on Christmas gifts, wrapping paper, etc, and pool it together and give it to a family in need. What amazing freedom we have found with this decision!

We reminisced about one of our favorite Christmas times. It was the year that my mother gave us a large sum of money and the Samaritan's Purse catalog and told us to spend it however we wished. Oh what wonderful fun we had picking out chickens for a family, and a pair of goats for another, and a bicycle for a missionary so he could have transport, and food for a small infant. We desire to get back to that and are so thankful for this reminder sent to us for such a time as this! Thank you Lord! 

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