Friday, December 19, 2014

Compassion over Consumption

Photo credit: wikimedia commons (creative commons)

“In the words of the Lord Jesus Himself “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Merry Christmas, Church4Chicks sisters! I hope you all are experiencing immense joy this holiday season. If joy is not at the top of your list of emotions this Christmas, I’ll be praying God’s peace over your life. For many people, Christmas can be a season that is more bitter than sweet. And for many other people, Christmas is a season of stress. Not a ‘oh my goodness how can I bake 300 cookies and shop for 30 people by next week’ stress, but a ‘I can’t even pay my normal bills, how can I afford to buy gifts for my children’ stress. Not to downplay the busyness and crazy schedule this season entails, but I believe there’s a bit of a distinction between busyness and the stressful burden of struggling to make ends meet. Your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker- there are likely people around you who are really struggling right now. Or, maybe you’re in that season right now. Maybe you’re counting pennies, trying to figure out how to make it through this very expensive month.

I’m reading an amazing book this Advent by my pastor, Louie Giglio. “Waiting Here for You: An Advent Journey of Hope”, has been an incredible way for my husband and I to refocus on the true meaning of this season. About once a week in the Advent devotion, the reading is called “Compassion over Consumption”. It only lists the verse at the beginning of this post: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” There is such truth in that statement. Christmas is about giving. It’s about the gift God gave us in Jesus. We commemorate that gift by giving gifts to each other, but I think we can take it a little overboard in our society. It’s easy for the focus to shift from Jesus to shopping, shopping, shopping.

Gift giving is one of my love languages, so it’s easy for me to go a bit crazy during this time of year. But this year, instead of spending a ton of money on each other, my husband and I have tried to focus on giving to people and groups who have needs. Joy filled my heart the other day when I realized that we have spent more on helping people this Christmas than we’ve spent on gifts for each other. And as I’ve watched our bank account and monitored our spending, it’s amazing how God has sustained us. It almost feels like the giving we’ve been doing hasn’t even come out of our bank account. I mean, I know it has, but God gives us provision when we are generous.

Friends, if the Lord has blessed you this season, look around you. If you look closely, and if you listen, you’ll probably notice the single mom who just looks exhausted. You’ll think about your friend whose husband just lost his job. You’ll remember the people who are mourning this season, or those who are dealing with overwhelming medical bills. God has placed people in front of you who could use some encouragement, whether it be a financial gift or some words of encouragement. And, if you fall into the category I just described, know that I’m praying for you. And I’d encourage you to reach out to the Church4Chicks team if there’s any way we can be praying for you specifically.

Christ has come friends! Rejoice, Emmanuel has come! 

Emily Laney is a social worker, educator, and justice seeker.  She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and is passionate about mobilizing the church to stand for justice and truth.  She is a Passion City Church door holder and manages a refugee resettlement program in Atlanta.  She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.

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