Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why can’t every day be Christmas?

I’ll be showing my age if I talk about a Christmas movie from my childhood, “There Once Was A Christmas That Almost Wasn’t” (1966). The movie contained a song that has stuck in my brain all these years, crowding out things my wife and boss might think are important. Imagine that…

Why can’t everyday be Christmas?

The practical answer, of course, is that if everyday were Christmas, it wouldn’t be special anymore. Wouldn’t make our hearts beat faster, wouldn’t keep us up at night with the excitement of how someone was going to react to that very special gift. There wouldn’t be a season of preparing for Christ’s coming, anticipating, and the joy of that birth and the exclamation point in the story of our salvation.

I think about that song, though, when I see the spirit in a person that is so prevalent this time of year. We give generously. We don’t pass the kettle without putting in a buck. We give food baskets. We volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters. We visit the sick, infirm, elderly, those in prison. We give of ourselves so generously.

That’s the part that would do well to last all year round. Those folks who are shut in or locked up will still be there in January; and the food pantry shelves will be pretty empty in February and March. The soup kitchen will need a few extra hands come April, and so on…

So while I believe it honors Jesus’ birth to celebrate it once a year (it isn’t one day, by the way, but a 12 day season) I think it honors Jesus life and ministry when we carry that spirit of compassion and generosity through the whole season. Why not? Why can’t every day be Christmas?

--Ken Sloane, Director of Communications Ministry Team, United Methodist Communications

Friday, December 12, 2008

Do we really need another "thing"?

How many boxes of chocolate covered cherries will be bought this year for Christmas?

What about another coffee mug or tie tack?

Do you ever find yourself buying things for people because you can’t think of anything else?

What about making a donation to a worthwhile cause in their name? This saves the recipient yet another mug to clutter up their cabinet and it allows the giver to do something to better the world. That is exactly what a family in Temple, Texas did. Instead of buying presents for one another, they put that money toward a charity.

Imagine the number of bed nets that is eradicating malaria that could be bought. Or imagine the number of scholarships that could be awarded through the United Methodist Student Day Offering.

This year, rethink church and rethink giving. Think more about the impact of your gift rather than the material value. Personally, I don’t need yet another pair of fuzzy slippers. I’d rather my family purchase a bed net.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Face the sun and Son!

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. - Maori proverb

The Maori people are native to New Zealand. I thought this proverb was very interesting. Too often, I think we find ourselves in a state of disarray with our back to the sun so that the shadows are projected in front of us. You can also think about this in a different sense – when we have our backs to the Son. Isn’t that what usually happens? When we turn our back on God, doom and gloom begin to appear in front of us. However, when we turn around and face the Son, that doom and gloom turns away and behind us and we can look to a bright future. Much like when we turn and face the sun – the shadows fall behind you.

What does this have to do with Connectional Giving you ask? Part of being facing the Son is giving of our time, prayer and offerings. Doing this is abiding by God’s mandate to give back a portion of what he has given us.

Do you find that when things aren’t going your way that you fall behind on your giving and fall out of the shining light of the Son? By giving generously through the hard times, we can continue to see the bright future – a future with hope. I’m not saying that it will only be sunshine and roses with the Son, but it’s so much more worth it than the doom and gloom of turning your back to the Son.

It is my prayer for you that you will always turn your face to the Son and sun and let the doom and gloom be forgotten.

--Tracy Wood, Web Content Coordinator, United Methodist Communications