Last year my wife and I were talking about how Christmas is weird because it’s Jesus’ birthday but we get presents for everyone but him. As she described in her blog, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us. Nobody would be thrilled if that was how our families celebrated our birthday, but we all do it to Jesus every year. It just didn’t seem right. So, we wondered, what would Jesus want for his birthday? Not a present, surely.
So…what? What could we give Jesus on his birthday?
The best thing we could think of was to give to the poor. That, we thought, is what Jesus would want for his birthday. So we started researching charities and programs. I thought picking one would be easy, but there is a lot of great work being done and it took a little research to find the one we liked the best. Eventually, we settled on the Lutheran World Relief Water Program (it’s tough to go wrong with clean water). Once we had that decided, the only question left was: how much?
That’s where things got interesting.
I still remember looking at each other when we both realized that if we were going to really make Christmas more about giving to Jesus than to others, then we had to give as much to him as we did to everyone else. Not to anyone else- to everyone else. Combined. We had to give as much to Jesus as we did to everyone else combined. We just had to. We already knew how much we typically spend on Christmas, so we took that amount and gave that much to the LWR Water Project.
The result was that we had our most spiritual Christmas ever. It felt great. For years I had known somewhere in my soul that the way I was celebrating Christmas wasn’t right. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do about it. There was only one way. Now I’ve found a different way, but it didn’t feel awkward or strange. It didn’t feel like I was trying something new. Instead, it felt like when I grew my first garden. I felt connected to God in a soulful, “you were made for this” way. I was returning to who I was made to be, even though I had never been that person before. It was so great, so wonderful, that we are doing it again this year, only this time we plan on giving more to Jesus than to other people. If giving as much felt so good, I can’t wait to find out how much better more will feel!
I invite you to join us this year. Give as much to Jesus as you do to your friends, family and coworkers. Better yet, give more to Jesus than you give to them! Find a charity or program that you like and go for it. I’m certain it will be your most spiritual Christmas ever.