Remembering What the Season is All About
How is your holiday season going so far? Did you get to take advantage of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals? How does this time of year make you feel? Stressed? Excited? Anxious? All of the above? I suppose at any given time it can be all of those things at once. For many, December can be busy and stressful! I get it!
In all the mayhem it is all too easy to forget that what the holidays are really about. The holidays are about gratitude, [link to nov post] blessings, and generosity. In this post I want to invite you to reflect on generosity. What it is, the many forms that it may take, and most importantly the generosity that God the Father expressed to us by giving us His Son, Jesus. Before I continue, I just want you to know that I recognize not all of you reading this post celebrate Christmas or believe as I do. That’s ok. The theme of generosity applies to all of humanity, regardless of faith, denomination, creed etc.
In 2 Corinthians 8:9, we see the ultimate picture of just how “liberal in giving” Jesus is. “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.”
There’s a lot to unpack there. My first question as I read this- is do we really know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
If we’re honest, I don’t think we could begin to know. It’s one thing to know it with our minds, it’s something else to have it deep in our hearts. The second part of the verse goes onto explain what His generosity looks like. “Though he was rich…”
Jesus is the Son of God. He had Heaven and all of its riches at his disposal. Unlike us, Jesus didn’t have to imagine what Heaven was like, what it is like to be by the Father’s side, to have his constant presence in His life. He didn’t need to read about these things, or hear it from a scholar, a priest, a theologian or evangelist. Jesus knew exactly what living in the light of God’s perfect love was like.
The Generosity of Jesus
Even though Jesus knew He would be born as a tiny human to poverty-stricken parents, and a broken world, He still volunteered. He chose.
- He knew the struggle,
- He knew about the Roman oppression, political and religious division, poverty
- Incurable diseases and unfathomable pain but He still chose. That is, in fact, what the Christmas story is all about.
This is all so much to wrap our limited minds around, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I can’t fully grasp this weighty truth. Here’s what I will say though. Jesus gave all. He gave Himself.
In the 3 years that he was teaching, preaching, healing, and raising corpses from the grave, never once do you see him say,
“Let me do this and see how that goes and if you’re good I’ll do more.”
If you went to him for healing, you were healed. If you went to him for food, you were fed.
Thank God, Jesus wasn’t/isn’t Santa, in the context of giving. Unlike Santa, His gifts aren’t merit based. Imagine if they had been. He could have bailed out and said, “No, you all don’t seem to be grateful for the littlest thing. I’m out. Leaving. Good luck with everything.” No, he stayed long enough to do what He came to do: show us the heart of the Father and make it possible for us to be in relationship with Him, to bring Heaven’s love to our broken world and to teach us to do the same. He gave. He still gives. Everything is gift.
Jesus not only chose to come, friends, He chose to stay.
The Generosity of Presence
Staying with people in their pain, doubt, and confusion, is a form of generosity, wouldn’t you say? Jesus didn’t believe in anything less than doing His all for all of us. He hasn’t changed either.
That being said, it seems well-placed to say that when we are generous, we are more like Jesus.
The Generosity Challenge
At a time of the year when so much of the emphasis is going to be about “getting,” how can we show some generosity, some liberal-in-givingness?
There are many forms of generosity, wouldn’t you say?
We don’t have to be wealthy to be generous.
Here are some ways we can give to others this Season:
- Volunteer at a local organization – perhaps a food bank or shelter. I would encourage you to look at Volunteer Match for some ideas on where and how you may serve in your community.
- Be mindful about how you can be more present when you are with people. Technology is always vying for our attention. Between phones and wearable devices, even when we are with someone we may find ourselves drifting away mentally wondering what that alert was..what are we missing. Purpose this season to be with the person you’re with when you’re in front of them. If it means setting “do not disturb” for the length of time you are visiting with someone, so be it. We only have now. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Be in the moment and be present.
- Find a worthy organization that you may donate to help support their cause. I’m sure they would be grateful for any amount, big or small.
- Cook or bake something, and invite someone over to share it with that may not have family nearby this Season.
- Help a neighbor anonymously. Maybe you have a single mom in your neighborhood and you know she’s struggling to make ends meet. Next time you’re buying groceries, pick up a gift card and slip it under her door. You never know how far a small deed like this can go.
These are just 5 simple ideas and by the time you read this there are a few weeks left to the month. Here’s what I want to challenge you to do:
Commit to something. Choose one of these or come up with your own and every day, for the rest of December, extend some openheartedness to someone near you! The idea is to be intentional about it. Do something every day. Need more ideas? Follow me on social media. I will be posting a daily challenge for the next 20 days!
Benefits of Generosity
For me and in my faith, Scripture and the heart of Jesus is my ultimate motivation and my model. There are so many reasons why generosity is beneficial. Not only could your small intentional act of generosity positively impact someone’s life, but it can change yours.
Here are a few benefits:
Studies have shown that giving (time, talent, effort, goods) contributes to:
- Better overall well-being- especially in older adults
- Feelings of greater vitality and self esteem
- Reduced stress and anxiety (the part of the brain that sends distress signals (amygdala) literally quiets down)
- Increased life expectancy
- Increased quality of life
- Deeper relationships/connections
Some of these studies are quite fascinating, so please feel free to read the sources below.
I want to end this post by sharing with you how I recently participated in a local event that gave me an excellent opportunity to receive the benefits of being generous.
Each year I have the pleasure of serving at a Thanksgiving dinner, sponsored by the Dover Thanksgiving Celebration Committee. The group raised $13,000 to be able to serve an entire Thanksgiving homestyle meal to hundreds of people. This year we served 350 people and I came as Mrs. Claus! There is just nothing like seeing the faces of people young and older, light up with joy and gratitude – knowing all they have to do is sit back and enjoy free food and music.
The event was born eleven years ago, of an idea that 2 local, bighearted business owners came together to make happen. Here are some photos and if you click the button you can read more about how this annual event began and the generous hearts behind it all! 🙂
The event made the news and you may read about it here: https://www.fosters.com/news/20191127/everything-is-wonderful-dover-thanksgiving-dinner-serves-350
In conclusion, I invite you this Season to reflect on the liberal, giving, generosity of Jesus, to be intentional about practicing this spirit of generosity, and by the way, please let me know in your comments what kinds of intentional acts of generosity you are committing to do for the rest of the month. You may email me as well, with your ideas and comments. I hope to hear from you! Have a blessed Christmas and happy holidays!