There are some surprises that aren’t pleasant. Then there are surprises that make you want to jump for joy. That’s serendipity. It’s one of those words that sounds like its meaning. It’s a happy surprise or joyous discovery. Who wouldn’t want that kind of surprise?
It’s fun when tradition collides with technology! For a few months, I’ve been using my bank’s web payment to pay my tithes and offerings. Why not? I’ve paid all my other bills that way for years. I didn’t expect the feeling of guilt when the offering plate came around even when I knew perfectly well I was giving.
So how do you combat that feeling when someone gives online? You can’t put your smart phone in the offering plate. Printing out a receipt seems tacky. If you wave it off and say, “I gave online,” you’re only calling attention to yourself and sound pretentious. Oh, the dilemmas!
A t-shirt would solve all the awkward exchanges. All the church has to do is pass them out in the back before the service. You can make them big enough to fit over any outfit. And if you decorate your church for the season, you can make them match colors for Lent and Advent!
I drew this cartoon for the July CHOGNews.
Cartoon of a boy at a fast food restaurant. He asks a worker, “My dad hates gift cards. Can you wrap up a hamburger in festive paper and a bow?
Our children are assaulted with a flood of commercials this time of year. They have seen so many toy commercials, they could probably quote them back to you verbatim. What do you do when everything around your children screams greed and you want to teach them to be giving?
My local paper had a great article by Kathy Schwartz entitled 10 Perfect Gifts Parents Can Give. That got me thinking about ways parents and teachers can teach how to be giving.
Here are seven easy tips:
- Volunteer at a community center.
- Perhaps there is a soup kitchen, homeless shelter or women’s shelter that would welcome your help.
- Be sure it is okay to bring your kids. Also you will need to discern if your kids are mature enough to be a help instead of a distraction.
- Find a service that gives gifts to those less fortunate. Two great ones are:
- Have your children participate in gift giving for relatives. The family can brainstorm what a grandparent, aunt or uncle wants. It doesn’t have to be store-bought. A homemade ornament can be just as meaningful if there is some thought put into it. (try to get beyond gift cards. It’s just too easy to grab a handful of these guys. Wrapped hamburgers also aren’t a good idea!)
- Have the family make and decorate Christmas cookies for the neighbors. The kids can decorate Christmas cookies with icing. The kids can also help deliver the gifts door-to-door.
- Team together with a family or with your church to sing Christmas carols door-to-door. Your church or religious institution probably has a list of elderly members that would love to hear some Christmas cheer.
- Attend a church service to remind everyone the reason for Christmas. Many churches have a Christmas Eve service.
- Read the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20.
- Talk about what the stable would have looked and smelled like.
- Why would the king of the world choose to come to earth in such a humble way?
- What would Mary and Joseph have felt when all these events occurred?
Try some of these techniques to get the focus off of the gift-getting and onto being generous.
Related articles across the web
Cartoon on the cliché, “You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.”
Cartoon: Boy says to girl, “If God loves a cheerful giver, why are you supposed to give ’til it hurts?”
We always get conflicting messages in this world, don’t we? To be fair, though, “Give ’til it hurts’ is not found in the Bible.
However, the Apostle Paul did write, “God loves a cheerful giver.” in 2 Corinthians 9:7.
I thought of this idea while thinking about today’s financial climate. Giving is down in some areas because the economy is so shaky. But sometimes the cure for financial uncertainty is to just give and don’t worry about tomorrow.
Today, I’m going to find some ways to give. How about you?
I drew this in Adobe Illustrator CS3