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Scripture Focus: 1 John 3.16-18
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Reflection: Of Waiting and Giving :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman
Advent, which could be a pleasant time of anticipating God’s gift, has become a stressful time of accumulating other gifts.
Rather than counting the days until the gift of Christ is given, we count the days left to purchase gifts for others. Blessing others with generosity is a good practice all year long, but consumer culture twists gift-giving into a selfish game of reciprocation. We give presents in order to get them as well.
The two practices could not have more different effects on our souls. As we count diminishing shopping days, the weighty dread of worldly expectations is piled upon us like the debt we incur through our spending. As we count diminishing days until the gift of Christ arrives, the heady joy of heavenly expectations lifts our souls, removing the debt we incur through our sin.
So do we boycott giving? By no means.
No matter how twisted our culture becomes, there are always ways to live redemptively in it. Christians have always excelled at reclaiming customs fouled by greed (or any other form of sin or idolatry) and refurbishing them with a gospel flair.
So as you hear the trumpeting of diminishing shopping days, pushing you toward consumeristic fervor, think of the trumpets that will announce Christ’s second advent that will bring an end to striving and selfishness.
As you purchase gifts for those dear to you, remember how dear you are to God that he would spend so recklessly to redeem you.
As you push through throngs and mobs of travelers and shoppers, remember the throngs of travelers that filled Bethlehem’s beds, pushing our outcast Savior to sleep in a manger. Think of the crowds that pressed in, hoping to hear his message. Think of the mobs who beat, spit on, and stripped him, nailing him to the cross as he fulfilled the gospel on our behalf.
And as you remember how Christ gave…give, and give, and give. What are you waiting for?
Give to those around you, to your loved ones, and to those organizations making a difference in the world. Give to those who can’t give back. Give until the only explanation for your generosity is that Christ is giving through you.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let us make a vow to the Lord our God and keep it; let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared. — Psalm 76.11
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Chronicles 3-4 (Listen -5:42)
1 John 3 (Listen -3:21)
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Read more about Hope on a Limb :: Hope of Advent
What we hope for in Advent is not a resource of earthly wealth, success, fame, and power.
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