No, I wasn’t hearing things; but, as I arranged them on our mantel, they seemed to say: When you see us, think GIVING – lavish, extravagant unmerited giving. Three wooden wise men,* and one porcelain votive, decorated with St. Nicholas ** reminded me in their own way that Christmas is about giving – to God, and in His name. They seemed to ask, “So, what is Christmas costing this year . . . what is your faith costing?”
Maybe I have been a bit touchy because of a what the pastor said in a pre-advent sermon; he had repeated a shocking statistic as part of a question:
Over a fourteen year period, 2000-2014, poverty in Dallas has increased 41%. In a city of great wealth and mega-churches, how can this be? (Link to the sermon True or Phony)
Blaming the poor and shaming the wealthy wasn’t Pastor Davis’ point – nor was it James’ point, who wanted the church to see the poor in their midst and put feet on their own faith. (James 2~ The Message) And both messages succeeded and got my attention when giving gifts can be just one click away.
What I do with my money is tied to what I do with my time.
Mark Davis then defined the word extend in a three fold description that showed me how to use my resources well even in an autumn’s garden.
Extending, that is making larger, my circle of friends is a good use of time; so is extending, as in offering, hospitality, compassion, and understanding; it is not beyond my capability! Nor is extending, that is exerting myself, as an opportunity presents itself, a waste of time for someone even in an autumn’s garden.
Our mantel decorations represent real people who gave — lavishly; they all extended themselves, so that God’s church was enlarged, served, and preserved especially in times of need; these are needy times for a growing number of people! Mark Davis repeated an apt quote, especially as I write Christmas cards:
This is a sober reminder that pleasant but inactive “well-wishing” in effect mocks fellow believers in need. True faith responds to need to the extent that it is able. (Dan G. McCartney)
How able am I to let GOD extend my faith? More might be revealed if my question is an honest one.
God understands our prayers even when we can’t find the words to say them. ~Author Unknown
* The visit of the Magi – Matthew 2