advent conspiracy: give more

Monday, December 17, 2012

AC_Give_WORDGod’s gift to us was a relationship built on love. So it’s no wonder why we’re drawn to the idea that Christmas should be a time to love our friends and family in the most memorable ways possible. Time is the real gift Christmas offers us, and no matter how hard we look, it can’t be found at the mall. Time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom. Time to write mom a letter. Time to take the kids sledding. Time to bake really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols. Time to make love visible through relational giving. Sounds a lot better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right?
(text from adventconspiracy.org)

This year, the truth that’s taking root in my heart turned out to be more appropriate for this year than I could have ever imagined: Incarnation. It started with this post by Kathy Escobar. And this quote:

God, with us. In the midst of our messy, beautiful lives.

Us, with others. In the midst of their messy, beautiful lives.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all season. Still grieving from last week, still processing through that with my children, it’s the place where all of our conversations end up. God with us. The beauty of the gift of Presence.

AC_Give_ICONWe spend a lot of time and energy figuring out who we’re going to give to each year. This year, my focus has turned. How do we make our gifts match our lives? We don’t want to just be giving money because it’s Christmas or because we should be generous and charitable. We want the truth of our lives to reflect where we’re putting our money. We picked things this year that don’t separate us from ‘those people’ we’re helping. We want to teach our children the beauty of sacrificial living – the kind doesn’t keep our safe and pretty lives separate from the pain and ugliness of this world.

The truth and beauty of the incarnation is that at the moment we needed rescue, God could’ve reached down to us. He could’ve lifted us to be with him - safe, secure, free from messed up lives and an angry world.

That’s not the redemption he chose. He chose to come here. To be with us.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
Matthew 1:23

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”
John 1:14

God is with us. He came here. He didn’t take us out of this crazy, screwed up world. He came here. To the mess, to the violence, to the brokenness we’re all living in. He came here.

That’s the truth we talked about with our children. We don’t want to teach them that the way to help is to keep your distance and send funds. We don’t want to just give to people; we want to be with people. We don’t want to teach them that the right way to grieve and react to tragedy is to stay at home and live in fear. We want to send them out, even though we’re sending them into a dangerous, unpredictable place. We can’t shield them from the bad things. We can’t truly protect them from the evil in this world.

What we can do is promise them that they’re not alone. When we spend time with the “least of these”, we aren’t doing it alone. When we go out into a crazy world, we aren’t going alone. We can plant this truth in their hearts: that the God we worship loves us enough to come down to the dirty manger in the messy world to be with us. Even when it seems the dark is overwhelming, we know that Light has come down to this very world we live in. We know that Love wins.

God with us.

Emmanuel.


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