Tag Archives: Gifts

Gifts of Love

                    
United Church Gifts With Vision Catalogue
A gift of $50 in your loved one’s name will help build
a  7 room school in Duplan, Haiti

I Can Make a Difference!!!

My son Dave, his wife, Joanne and granddaughter, Jenna, are not coming home for Christmas. We’ll miss them. We want to include them, but how? We can’t mail gifts to them because the mail where they live is not as reliable as it is in Canada. Packages tend to be opened and their contents shared long before they get to our loved ones. It would be easy to send money, and I’m sure it would be appreciated, but for me, that leaves Christmas out of the equation. I need to honor my faith in my gift giving.

The United Church’s “Gifts with Vision” Catalogue and Kiva’s Microloan Catalogue and others like them provide a wonderful smorgasbord of gifts that will help change the world through love. Every year we give each family on our list one of these gifts. This year, shopping in these catalogues will be even more fun. We’ll have more money to spend because these gifts will make up our entire package for Dave’s family.

We can support building a water treatment and supply plant for Duplan Secondary School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We can provide clothing, basic personal care, and pastoral support at St. Matthew’s-Maryland, West Broadway, and Oak Table community ministries in Winnipeg. We can stock a medical clinic in far off Africa. We can join with others to enable Domitila in Bolivia start a business making clothing so she can support herself and her family.  In a very real way, we can act to feed the hungry, care for the poor, and to change systems that perpetuate resource inequities.

Our faith calls us to make a difference. If you’ve never seen one of these catalogues, or experienced the joy of this kind of Christmas giving, it’s time you did. They’re available on line and at your local church. Make sure that this year, that at least some of your gift giving makes a difference in the world. For today, keep the thought:

This year, I want to give a gift that will transform someone’s life.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)

Is God’s Supply of Love and Caring Limited?

A sign of God's promise of unconditional love.
A sign of God’s promise of unconditional love.

At the dance last week, we applauded the couple who were chosen as winners of the “spot dance.” They had obviously managed to be in the right place (whatever that place was) when the song finished. I leaned towards one of the other couples and said, “Oh well, I wouldn’t want to waste my luck on such a tiny prize.”

When I think about it, many of us have the same attitude when it comes to asking for God’s help in prayer. Oh yes, we complain to God, and we tell God what we need, but we don’t really expect God’s help in the mundane everyday things, like finding us a parking place when we’re late. We wouldn’t want to waste God’s time and caring on such a little need. We sure wouldn’t want God to get tired of our whining and not be willing to help us when we really need help, when we’re faced with a disaster. We know that we can suffer from compassion fatigue. We don’t want God to have a similar problem, especially when it comes to us.

Does God have a limit to God’s supply of love and caring? I don’t think so. Jesus compared God’s endless and abundant love to that of parental love.  “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:9-11)

For me it is extremely comforting to know that God’s love is limitless. I can’t wear God out when I bring my concerns to God. Just as a mother opens her arms to cuddle a child with a scraped and bleeding knee, God reaches out and draws us under the safety of God’s care when we come with our daily concerns and fears. We can trust that there is nothing too little or too big for our ever loving God.

Bring on the gifts!

 

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts I love them.
Gifts, Gifts, Gifts
I love them.

Gifts gaily wrapped with colorful paper, ribbons and bows are definitely a symbol of Christmas. At our family gathering, even one gift per person mysteriously results in a mountain of gifts under the Christmas tree.

The giving of gifts at Christmas began long before Santa Claus started his journey from the North Pole. The Christian Christmas story involves “Three Wisemen or Kings” who travelled from far off places to bring gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Today, the gold makes sense. We know its value, but Frankincense and Myrrh?  What are they? Frankincense and myrrh are both expensive tree resins valued for their fragrance and for medicinal purposes. Frankincense was often burned to release its aroma, especially at religious occasions. Its fragrant smoke symbolized prayers rising to heaven. Myrrh was often used in burials and symbolized death. Actually all three gifts were valuable and useful. Given by strangers, they speak of security and respect, faith and leadership, compassion and caring.

I believe that we truly understand this part of our Christmas story when we give gifts that reach beyond our family and friends to our unknown neighbours here in Canada and around the world. We can know the joy of the Wisemen when we deliver baskets filled with food, warm coats and mittens, a few toys and maybe even gifts of money to those who truly need them. I like to shop in the United Church’s “Gifts with Vision” catalogue for special gifts of education, food, community wells, farm animals, and much more.

I believe the angels sing and the hallelujahs sound in heaven when we give gifts of love to our family, for sure. But when we reach out to our “neighbours” near and far, the heavens resound with God’s joy. We have truly celebrated Jesus’ birthday.

Need ideas check out www.giftswithvision.ca

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of goldfrankincense and myrrh.”  (Matthew 2:11)

 

 

Let’s Get It Right!

Many of us try to get everything right at Christmas. Those in charge of cooking endeavour to prepare the most sumptuous feast of the entire year. In our effort to choose “the right gift,” plan the “best party,” do “the right thing” that will keep everyone happy, we get buried in the work of Christmas. The celebration becomes a mountain of expenses and a valley of exhaustion. We declare, “Christmas is ruined. Society has commercialized it. Let’s run away. Let’s not celebrate at all.” For Christians escape is not an option. The celebration of Jesus’ birth is second only in importance to the celebration of Easter. What then can we do?

On our front lawn, a spot light illuminates the word “JOY”. The “O” carries the silhouette of the Christmas nativity, announcing Jesus’ birth. Many years ago, a friend, shared his creative gift with wood, by making this for me. When the preparations and celebrations of Christmas leave me exhausted, this beautiful piece of art reminds me that two thousand years ago, God came in Jesus and changed the world.

At Christmas, I give gifts because I am grateful for God’s love, because I want to share the abundant blessings I have been given.  I celebrate at parties because I am called to share the Joy of knowing God’s love and forgiveness. There is no “right” to our Christmas celebration. We are carrying on the joy that began with a carpenter, who through us is still touching lives with God’s love. We are lighting up the world with the “Good News” of creation. To be the gift of Christmas is a “holy privilege.” There’s no right way to do it. We need only give in love. It’s God’s job to make it “right”.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)