Advent Conspiracy (www.adventconspiracy.com) is not about foregoing Christmas gifts. The idea isn’t that we become puritans who banish anything that has a tinge of worldliness to it. It’s simply about doing Christmas in a more meaningful way.
Advent can be likened to the season of Lent. They are both traditions that encourage a time of focusing and integrating the essence of the holiday into your everyday life. True, we should always have a lifestyle that reflects Christ, but the season of Advent helps to propel us along. Who couldn’t use an extra boost? This week’s topic focuses on giving more. See, I told you we weren’t foregoing gifts! I will say, however, the ‘more’ here denotes quality not necessarily quantity.
There are just three weeks left until Christmas day. Even less if Christmas is celebrated early at your house like it is at mine. Are you feeling the pressure? Are you running around frantically trying to find that perfect gift? Some of us ask for lists, others of us take an educated guess and sometimes we even get something -anything- just because we feel obligated.
What if instead of just getting something –anything- we gave meaningfully? Did you know that each of the three gifts the wise men gave had meaning? The Bible doesn’t give us the specific meaning of these gifts, but we can confidently say they weren’t random. Gold may have helped fund Jesus’ flight to Egypt for refuge. Frankincense was and still is used in worship services. Myrrh was used for the anointing of kings and for the anointing of the dead (let that sink in).
These gifts were significant, memorable and full of meaning.
Think about some of the Christmas gifts you have been given. What stands out in your mind? Out of the possibly hundreds of gifts you have been given over the years, how many were really memorable? What made those stand out? Maybe asking that question can be a starting point for your giving this year.
I want to share with you three more tips for finding, maybe not the perfect gift, but perhaps a more meaningful gift. You can find lots of gift guides out there, but instead of looking at the stuff cultural trends tell us are ‘hot’ this year, let’s look back at scripture for some guidance.
Give presence over presents- “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23
God didn’t stay at a distance. He didn’t give from afar. He came to be with us. The same is true for the wise men. They came from afar to simply be in the presence of Jesus. We don’t know exactly how long their journey was or how long they stayed, but we do know they just had to be there. Maybe your gift to someone this year can’t be wrapped up in a box and put under the tree. Instead, it’s the gift of sharing presence together. Go out for a movie, coffee or bowling. Have dinner with your best friend or even someone you haven’t seen in who knows how long. Be with each other, because people are more important than stuff.
Give personally – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12 (emphasis mine)
Did you notice the repeating pronoun in that verse? YOU. God knows you inside and out. He knew exactly what we needed. He didn’t give us just any gift, He gave us a personal gift. Sure, the gift of Jesus is for everyone, but it’s also the foundation for a personal relationship with God. How can you make your gift personal this year? What can you give that might have significant meaning to just you and the receiver, even if nobody else gets it?
Give a gift that is truly costly- “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8
God’s gift to us cost the very the life of His son. When we talk about cost here, we aren’t talking about money – If you are on a budget and there is a great deal, go for it. I’ve never once asked how much money someone spent on a certain gift for me, but I have noticed the effort they put into it. Jesus gave it all as a model for us to give to each other sacrificially.
My special gift this year is a book. The inspiration for this book came from road trips with my Mom. My Grandmother is in an assisted living situation and throughout the year my Mom and I go to Indiana to visit her. When we travel to see her for Christmas, we read a small book together, something we can finish on the twelve-hour round trip. My book is one of those books. This Christmas, sharing presence in a four door sedan, we’ll read my book; a personal gift that cost me a year’s worth of writing.
How can you give in a way that reflects the story of Christmas?
By the way, if you would like to check out the book I wrote click here