News You Can Use: ‘Tis the Season
Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. How quickly we move from Thanksgiving to a shopping frenzy!! No longer content to open their doors early on Friday, some chains even opened at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day to begin their Black Friday sales. Not even a full day to focus on what we’re thankful for!
Paul exhorts us in Colossians 3:1-2 to fix our minds and hearts on things above, not on earthly things. But how do we do that while we’re barraged with consumeristic messages, overwhelmed with demands on our time, and caught up in the busy-ness that this season always brings?
Emphasize Events and Relationships rather than Things
One way to help focus our minds and hearts can be to emphasize events and relationships over things. Christmas concerts, family gatherings, and special meals can be opportunities to reframe our thoughts (of course, they can also add to the stress if we overschedule!). Special church services, family time around Advent calendars, and even the sending of Christmas cards can be opportunities to remember and to share the true message of Christmas.
Focus giving on “the least of these”
Much of our giving around the Christmas season is directed toward family members, who often already have all they need. Giving is one of the five major love languages according to Gary Chapman, and there’s nothing wrong with expressing our love for family through giving. But many families have found special meaning in focusing their giving outside the walls of the home.
In 2012, the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation started “Giving Tuesday” in response to all the commercialism and consumerism of the holiday season. Several for-profit and non-profit organizations joined as founding partners, including technology organizations Mashable, Cisco, and Skype and charitable organizations such as Heifer International. According to Wikipedia, in 2016 (the most recent year for which estimates are available), total giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving was estimated to be between $168 million and $177 million. (1)
There are always many opportunities for giving, of course. Many churches sponsor giving and serving initiatives in their communities, such as projects with local food pantries or homeless shelters, partnerships with organizations such as Salvation Army or Angel Tree, or special events for those in need. On a global scale, organizations like World Vision provide catalogs of gifts that can be given to those in poverty around the world to provide sustainable food and/or income. Others, such as Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs, provide ways to support those who are persecuted and imprisoned for their faith.
However you choose to experience God and express your gratitude this Christmas season, we at Good $ense wish you a blessed and joyous remembrance!
(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giving_Tuesday, accessed on 12/3/2017