Gifts of Hope

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. For me, it brings a great amount of joy, anticipation and hope, but for many people, Christmas holds very little hope at all.  For many, Christmas is often a painful reminder of what or who they don't have.  The people who have get more and the people who have not continue to dream about the time when things might be different for them.
I work with underprivileged kids.  I can't tell you the number of times kids told me they didn't think they were going to do Christmas this year because money was tight.  I would just sit there with nothing to say back to them, surprised that that was their reality because that is no where close to my reality.  I have never been in a place where money was too tight to have Christmas, but millions of people are.

I have plenty of things.  My roommate and I were talking about how we wanted this Christmas to be more about giving and less about receiving.  We each wanted to find families to give back to this Christmas.  We both work with people in great need and we live in one of the places in the United States with the highest refugee population, so it was not difficult to find families in need.  All together we shopped for 10 kids, 5 families and it was such an amazing experience.

There was no fanfare.  None of the kids will ever know who gave them the gifts and that is the beauty of it.  Hopefully when they think about this Christmas, and the things that they received, they will say that God provided a blessing for them...that He gave them hope during a dark time.  This is the reason for this season. It is much greater than trees and twinkle lights, egg nog and carols; it is about the sacrificial gift of God that changed the world forever.  And it is our calling, as followers of Jesus to do Christmas in a way that honors that sacrifice and shines light into the darkness.

Now, I am not writing this to bring any attention to what I have done.  I am writing this as an affirmation of what God has promised to us about giving to others. This was the most meaningful part of my Christmas.  This was the part that will endure long after all of my gifts have been opened and the tree has come down.  This act of obedience stirred something in my soul, that continues to rise even though the act is over; it stirred up a heart of generosity.  I want others to experience this; to know that giving (the type of giving where you stand to gain nothing) is much better than receiving. Find a way to give before this season ends.  Here is an article about practical ways to give this season and throughout the year; because this shouldn't be a seasonal thing, it should be a daily rhythm of life for us as believers.