A few years ago the Huffington Post featured an article on the 12 dangers of Christmas. The article focused on fire safety during the holiday season. They covered everything from your Christmas tree drying out and catching the drapes on fire to burning down your home while preparing your roast beast.
The article had me thinking, what if there were other dangers during Christmas? What if, aside from falling off your roof while working on your light display and over roasting your chestnuts, there were hidden dangers during the season of advent that most of us overlook. So I decided to write about the dangers of Christmas we often ignore.
Now, a few years later, I want look at a few more dangers of Christmas we might ignore or be unaware of. So here we go, another 12 Dangers of Christmas.
Over Thinking Our Giving
Every year churches and community organizations ramp up their efforts between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The goal is the tap into the sentimental attitude most people are feeling and provide opportunities for service. This manifests itself as carolers take to nursing homes, food pantries are bursting at the seams, and we buy gifts for children who might go without on Christmas morning.
In addition to providing service opportunities, churches and community organizations ramp up their fundraising efforts. This is done to meet the organizations yearend financial goals and obligations or to go above and beyond their normal outreach/mission giving. The church where I previous served raised money each Advent and Lent to support The Highland Support Project, providing opportunities for Mayan women and their communities. The church I currently serve is raising money for ForKids, an organization helping children and families escape the grip of homelessness.
When we host/coordinate/participate in these acts of mission we often pat ourselves on the back, thinking about the good we are doing, and yes we are doing good in the world. We are reaching out into the world, serving as Christ would serve, as hallmarks of Christian Discipleship. Often when we do this things we congratulate ourselves on the amount of time and money we give or the number of lives impacted.
Over the past week our church has hosted a cold weather shelter. Each might 60 men and women would board buses to seek refuge from the cold, find a warm meal, and have a safe place to rest their heads. Monday morning, as our guests were boarding the bus to head back to downtown Norfolk, a guest handed our coordinator five one dollar bills.
I want to give this to the church.
I know it’s not much but I want to help.
Now John, the coordinator, was blown away and as he was telling me this story I was blown away. Here we are, preparing to donate $10k plus to a local agency to do good work, patting ourselves on the back, and this gentleman who only has what he can carry on his back gave his last dollars.
How many of us would do that?
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” – Matthew 19.21
After all, every time we read this verse from Matthew’s Gospel we find ways to re-write Christ’s words so we don’t actually have to sell and give to the poor. We justify our Starbucks addictions all the while people who have little are living this out.
This Christmas, beware of the danger of overthinking and over-gratifying ourselves for our giving. When we have the faith to give our last $5.00 as we board the bus for a cold day on the streets, then and only then, can we say we’ve listened to what Christ said.