Christmas reminds us that the giving of gifts is always appropriate given the truth that God is the greatest giver of gifts, including the greatest gift of all, his one and only (unique, or only begotten) Son. But we are reminded each year that much of the gift giving that we do is about ourselves and those that we feel an obligation to bless at this time of the year. This all has a serious down side to it I am sure. But I do not intend to protest the whole season because it has been abused. There is too much moaning and protesting about this, at least for my tastes. (I have not been led to take a vow of poverty but I do believe in living within my means and in giving to the poor, both based on clear biblical principles.) I do give Christmas gifts to my loved ones, with moderation, and I thoroughly enjoy it. My family also gives to me and I enjoy receiving their gifts. But there is more to the season than this "exchange" of presents within the family.
I was reminded of all this Monday. My daughter asked me to help her unload a car load of food at our Lutheran Church of the Master food pantry near our home. Stacy and her husband Jason own a local martial arts academy and asked for food gifts to distribute to the poor this Christmas. Their students responded with great generosity thus I took a little break from my writing Monday morning and helped out in the delivery of this great load of gifts. I am glad that I did. It was bitterly cold, about 4 degrees above zero at the time, and people were already lining up in the early morning for Christmas groceries. As we made many trips into the building with food I had the opportunity to then see people taking food we had just dropped off out to their cars or to people who were waiting for them. Some of the very gifts that we left were going out almost as fast as we took them in. We got to see the "turn-around" process happening right before our very eyes. It was encouraging and, admittedly, quite satisfying.
While you enjoy your own family and share gifts with one another this Christmas do not forget the poor. Their need is greater now than in recent years. You cannot solve every problem. You cannot even change your community on your own. But you can make a real difference. Try giving and thus invest some of your great abundance in the poor. Do it personally. You will be glad you did I promise you.
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