Monday, December 14, 2009


For the last three years now my family has been making an effort to shift the way we celebrate Christmas. I guess it all started when we partnered with a sister church here in Orange County to bring a blessing to a single mom with brain cancer and her teenage son a few years ago. I remember walking back to the car afterwards and telling my wife, "That was my Christmas. From now on, don't buy me anything for Christmas. Let's just bring a blessing to as many people as we can."

So, for the last few years that's what we've done our best to do. This year our family is helping to buy Christmas gifts for children living in a local motel with their families. Our house church is working to provide free groceries, buy gifts, and share what we’ve been given with our friends living in this motel. We're also putting together several baskets of food to give to a local orphanage, and this week we're going to sing carols at a local senior care center down the street from our house.

Just last week I read an article from the great John Fischer about how we should change the question, "What did you get for Christmas?" to "What did you give for Christmas?" I completely agree. More than changing the question, we're changing the emphasis of Christmas. When we focus on giving then all that matters is what we give away, not what we receive in return.

The most amazing thing, however, is that even though my family does not buy me a Christmas gift to put under the tree anymore, I still get plenty of gifts. In fact, I receive significantly more for Christmas now than I have ever received before. It's just that what I get for Christmas now is the sort of stuff that won't fit inside any box, or be contained by mere wrapping paper.

I know of many other families who are doing exactly what we've started to do this Christmas. Maybe you do too? Or maybe you and your family would like to start a new tradition of giving away more than you receive?

If you're really lucky you'll start to realize that you can give extravagantly no matter what time of year it may be. People in need are hungry and lonely and thirsty on all the other days of the year, so why should we only give to them once or twice a year?

Someone once said that whenever we measure our generosity we tend to measure how much we give away, but when God measures our generosity, He measures how much we keep.

If Christmas is really about giving, then let's focus on giving. And if Christmas is about the miraculous, incarnational birth of God in the flesh who came to be "Emmanuel" - God with us - then let's follow His example and give ourselves away for the sake of others.

Peace to you,


Brian said...


Tracey Alan Sheneman said...

I love it. It is the way of God, who did not spare his only Son but gave him up for us all. "Freely you have received; freely give."