This morning I was standing in line at the cash register at a local store. There was Christmas music playing in the background, and I became aware that all three of us in line were toe tapping etc. to the music. I noted this to them and suggested that it must mean that it was early in the season as later on we would likely be complaining about being tired of hearing it. We had a nice chuckle, and one of the women noted that it wasn’t even December yet. When I commented that Advent starts tomorrow one of the women asked what I’m giving up. I said that we give things up for Lent and not Advent, and that it is a good thing! That got me thinking…
We actually give up many things during Advent don’t we?
We give up common sense with respect to our eating habits. Our best intentions with respect to eating healthfully typically go out the window as the chocolate, candy and home-baked sweets are set out to tempt us, and big family dinners go on and on!
We give up on our budgets as we buy special clothing for Christmas parties, and get caught up in all the Christmas shopping hype. Out come our credit cards and we lose track quickly of how even really great prices can be too much if you buy too many things.
Neither of those are good for us, but there are more things given up during Advent and Christmas…
We relax those tight fists on our purse strings and donate more to charities and causes. Knowing this it is the main time of year for organizations such as World Vision to put out catalogues of items so that people see something concrete to go along with their monetary donation. Along with our money we loosen up and give more of our time and talents at this time as well. People go out to entertain at nursing homes, work to collect food and clothing for food banks etc.
It is a time to give up on despair, to be replaced by the hope that comes with the birth of the Messiah.
We give up on arguments, feuds, and wars (remember hearing about the troops in the WWI in 1914 meeting in no-man’s-land to celebrate Christmas) and accept the gift of peace from the Prince of Peace!
We let go of our inner Grinch and, in joy, we smile, sing, and celebrate the birth of a baby boy!
And finally, out goes our loneliness as we accept the love of God and the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
So it turns out the question the woman asked me in line this morning was pretty insightful after-all. What will I give up for Advent? How about you?
Posted in anticipation, Christmas, Reflections
Tagged Advent, charity, Christmas, debt, diet, giving, giving up, hope, joy, Lent, love, peace, World Vision
I was thinking this morning about debt. When we say the Lord’s Prayer at my church one line is, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This is not really talking about financial issues, although I suppose it is not excluding those, but about our sins.
New rules for credt card companies came in as a response to the financial crisis of a couple of years ago. Credit card companies are now required to give two new pieces of information on each statement; the date at which your debt will be paid off if you pay minimum payments, and the date if you pay a larger percentage. This can be a pretty scary thing at which to look, almost scary enough to lead us to start using cash!
What if that same rule were applied to our other debts, those of hurtful words, broken promises, and myriad other sins? What would that statement have to say?
New Balance Total………………. 40 years of sin
Current Payment Due……………. 1 month of good works
Total Minimum Payment Due……1 month of good works
Minimum Payment Due Date…… Next Sunday
Minimum Payment Warning: If you make only the
minimum payment each period, you will pay more in
interest and it will take you longer to pay off your balance.
If you make no additional You will pay off the
charges using this card balance shown on this
and each month you pay statement in about.
by the due date.
Only the minimum payment 100 Years, 6 Months
I obviously made all that up, but even though it seems extreem, I am pretty sure that the time to pay off our own debts would be a lot longer than 100 years, and let’s face it, we aren’t likely to manage not to run the bill up higher over the years! The point is, there is no way that we can pay that debt off on our own. But the good news is that through the grace of God and the loving sacrifice of Jesus, it is already marked
Posted in Reflections
Tagged change, choices, Christianity, credit cards, cross, debt, faith, forgiveness, God, help, Jesus, justice, kindness, problems, promise, reflection, sin