Thursday, December 6, 2012

What does Jesus want for Christmas? #4

A fruitbasket.  Now that’s a nice gift.  Paul imagined a basket of fruit, “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5), sweet evidence of God’s life-giving power – including generosity.  This year, for Christmas, Jesus wants generosity.

   Hey, that’s easy:  I’m already quite generous at Christmas!  I give grand things to my family, we drop off goodies for the Christmas collection, I catch up on my year-end giving. 

   But wait:  Jesus?  You say that type of generosity is all about me?  Hmm.  Now I recall that slogan Mike Slaughter dreamed up:  Christmas is not your birthday.  All our lives, we’ve acted as if it were – and have felt rather noble and downright spiritual about it.  Jesus’ birthday party! – with gifts for me and mine.

   Generosity, the kind Jesus wants for Christmas, is different.  It’s not about me; it’s about Jesus, it’s about the people Jesus cares most about.  Sure, he loves us all – but he has a special affection for the hungry, the homeless, the depressed, the impoverished, those facing their first Christmas after a marriage dissolved, the ache of grief made worse since ‘Tis the season to be jolly.

   Generosity is very close to joy, for it is very close to Jesus’ own heart, and the closer we can get to Jesus’ heart, the more joy we will experience – not the faked “fun” malls and parties offer.  Real joy.  Real peace.  Real generosity.  It’s not about me.  It’s not my birthday.

   What is my budget for Christmas?  If someone studied my December tally, would there be evidence of Jesus?  Just a trace?  My goal is to give much more (and more each year!) to the causes Jesus espouses than to the Howells who already have more than they could possibly handle.

   Where the Spirit is, the Spirit of Christmas, there is generosity, the kind that pleases Jesus, what he really wants for Christmas.