Pastors’ Ponderings

‘Tis the season….. of joy and light and hope.
“Tis also the season when we get busy and sometimes worn out with all the busyness.
‘Tis the season when we wonder at times: what is it all about? Why are we rushing around so much?
What would our preparations for Christmas look like if we were not focused on you and me? What would Advent look like if were focused on Jesus instead, and the kind of community Jesus is calling us to be? What can we do this year, to experience that joy, light, and hope of the season?

“Do we spend our holiday season worrying about presents for people, purchasing stuff they might not need at all, all because we think that’s what we are supposed to do? Or do we follow God’s way, a new way to live?”

This question is in our Advent devotional book, Down to Earth by Mike Slaughter with Rachel Billups. (Get our daily devotionals via email. We will send out an email to the congregation with a link to sign up for daily devotionals during Advent. Or pick up a hard copy at church. Or ask us to order the Down to Earth devotional book for you, by calling the church office: 447-1950)

Our culture in the United States rates the success of the Christmas season by how much money we spend. If retailers have good sales, than, well, it’s been a good season.

I’m uncomfortable with that. What about you?

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we can ask ourselves: what are we celebrating at Christmas? Is it about the gifts, or the people? Is it about pleasing our children and other loved ones? Or is it about being with them? How do our daily decisions express our values as Christian, a people who celebrate the arrival of Jesus the Christ here on earth?

This Christmas season, as we prepare to celebrate God’s Presence, here with us on earth, I invite you to try something that Ginsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio started doing: spend only ½ as much on buying gifts and decorations, and then give an equal amount (the other half) to a cause that honors Jesus’ birth.

Here are some ways to experiment with that approach: buy one gift for loved ones, and then ask them what project or causes they value. Make a donation in their name. You might pick up a copy of our Alternative Gift Catalogue, which features local ministries connected to Asbury. You can pick up a copy after worship in the Fellowship Hall, or in the church office during the week. Or, you and your loved ones can find other causes to support.

However you celebrate Christmas, I’m eager your response to this idea that we could spend ½ as much on buying things, and then give an equal amount to a cause that honors Jesus’ birth. I’m finding this to be a challenge, yet also feel drawn to try it. I’m going to give it a try. How about you?

Pastor Kim

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