Well, Christmas is nearly with us. I got my usual shock when the stores were filled with goodies immediately after Halloween. What do you like best about Christmas – the food or the presents or the seaonal music in the shops or the general sense of expectation? One of my favourite parts is the letters that arrive from around the world from friends from my past that I only have contact with once a year. Maybe I should reach them on Facebook, but there is something special about the anticipation in taking a letter out of the postbox, opening it up and taking time to read it.
Still that’s not what this is about. I’ve been thinking a lot about money in the last while as you’ll find out on Sunday when I give a report on the state of Ignite’s finances. How does Jesus’ attitude to money link into Christmas in the 21st century? Christmas after all celebrates the arrival of Jesus on the earth.
Jesus says be generous but that doesn’t mean giving Aunt Maud an extra pair of bedsocks or buying yet another box of chocolates for a house already overflowing with them.
Jesus says be generous to the poor and disadvantaged so this year instead of buying those extras that you really don’t need, how about giving the equivalent to a charity whose aims you support but that you don’t normally donate to during the year.
Then maybe next year with a year to think about it you could match what you spend on clothes or presents or food or nights out. There are two alternative ways to approach this. You can either simplify your own Christmas and release a percentage of your spending for charity or you can set aside extra money over the year so you can do both.
Maybe over time you’ll be able to match your total giving to your total expenditure for Christmas.
By this stage you are probably all groaning and yes I know all about family expectations and traditions that seem so hard to change. And I know that money is unbelievably tight for some of you. But you may find your family and friends would be more than happy to make changes if you have the courage to talk about it.
It’s not that I think we should stop celebrating Christmas but I do think we need to think what we should give priority to that would actually please Jesus. After all it is HIS birthday and we do try to give people what they want on their birthday.
Well, that’s my challenge to all of us.
I wish you a great Christmas and do enjoy the feeling that sharing some of your Christmas with those in need brings.