trading meaningless presents for meaningful presence

holynight

This year, I want to redefine Christmas. I want to carry the spirit of advent with me long past December 25th. Will you walk this journey with me?

Advent is a time of waiting, of eager expectation. We are waiting for something to come, for someone to come. Christmas advent celebrates the coming of a king in tiny, infant form. We wait in expectation for the unexpected; a helpless baby born to a poor family with nowhere to go, meant to be our Messiah, God incarnate, building a Kingdom that is upside down. He arrived and with Him came hope. Each year we celebrate advent. We celebrate the waiting. We celebrate the gift of Hope.

 Advent is a time of waiting.

of HOPE.

of anticipation.

 Each year in the US we celebrate advent during the month of December, but for others around the world, it is a daily practice. For those living in the midst of poverty and injustice it means waiting in hope that one day, justice will be realized. For many, advent is not a once yearly celebration but a state of being.

As I have spent time with our partners and the children we serve, I have seen what it is to have faithfulness in the waiting. I have discovered much about hope. And I have learned from them how to live in eager expectation that the same God who sent us Jesus, is living and moving today in our lives.

This year, as we search

and shop

and hope

for Christmas to have great meaning,

lets take a moment to think about what has actually brought hope and meaning to our own lives.

I’m not pretending this is easy. I see the shiny lights and discount signs and want so badly to participate in the holiday season shopping. I have this small problem where I will spend all of my money on useless things for people I love so much because I just know stuff will make them so happy.

But I know this isn’t true and I know nothing in my life will change unless I face reality. Reality is that if you want to see what I value, look at my bank statement. I think for the rest of the month, each time I spend a dollar on things Christmas related I will say the phrase “This is what I value. This is what I place my hope in.” Ouch, it already hurts.

Instead of spending my money on meaningless presents, I want to spend my time on meaningful presence. I want to stop trying to fill spaces with stuff and forged happiness, and wait in those empty spaces together for God to bring authentic joy.

This year, as we redefine the meaning of Christmas in our lives, let’s consider this gift of Hope that’s been given to us and how we might share that with others. Let’s refuse to give gifts that speak nothing of hope and instead to choose only to spend time and money on what reveals the great hope we are celebrating.

I absolutely do not believe gifts are a bad thing. One of my very favorite things is giving gifts. Gifts can communicate great love on a deep level. I just want to make a shift in my life that would lead me to be keenly aware of what it is I am giving and communicating with my gifts. Do the gifts I give share hope or is it just stuff?

Sharing hope with my family might look like spending intentional time with them on a family outing. Sharing hope with my sponsored child might look like giving towards the water filtration system at his feeding center. Sharing hope with my community might look like celebrating with homeless youth who don’t have a home to be in. Sharing hope with my friends might mean making gifts that show I value our friendship and memories together.

 

What does sharing hope look like for you?

 

Need some ideas for intentional gifts that share hope with others?

-take your family on an adventure to make memories! Hiking, ice skating, christmas light searching, something fun!

sponsor a child

-plan a day for you and your friends to volunteer together in your community

give to a project

– check out these products that empower – Krochet Kids, 31 Bits, Mata Traders, Ten thousand Villages

-as a family sponsor another family from a christmas angel tree

-make hot cocoa and cookies and share them with strangers

hope

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