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Generosity in a White Elephant World

Encounter: Meditate on the invitations of generosity we find in Luke 3:11, 6:38 , Acts 2:44, 1 Timothy 6:18, Hebrews 13:16, Isaiah 58:7, James 2:14-17, 1 John 3:17

Our home was filled with laughter and fellowship this week for our annual Eden Church staff and leadership Christmas party. We look forward to setting aside our meetings and tasks for this family time to enjoy one another’s company, celebrate the Christmas season and feast together around the table.

There is another part of the evening I look forward to, most of all for the laughter it brings. After our bellies are full of goodness, we move to the living room for…can you guess it? The white elephant gift exchange. Now white elephant can mean different things to different people, but the most common understanding is each person brings a humorous gift you are “re-gifting” or something a little out of the norm (like the reindeer hat your cousin gave you last yearJ. Everyone then gets a number and when it’s your turn, you grab a gift from under the tree or steal another person’s gift.

There will inevitably be a couple gifts that are very popular for stealing but the rules state that gifts can only be stolen 3 times. With the more polite crowd, you get the “I’m sorry,” as the person steals what you were hoping to take home and the laughter fills the room. It never seems quite right to say I’m sorry while you are taking something away from someone especially when you know they want to keep it. Of course, this is all done in fun, but hints at what many people, maybe even us, have experienced in life. It feels at times, life steals more from us than it gives.

Scrooge experienced many things stolen from him early in his life and it caused him to fear. He feared not having enough and people disappointing him, so he began to control the only thing he thought he could, his money and his love.

This Sunday we will see how spirit of Christmas Present is about to take Scrooge on a journey, revealing a window into the way things are that he could not experience by himself. The spirit was there to show Scrooge how the abundance he was hoarding had the power to bring life to another and he had gifts he had forgotten to share which also had the power to change his life.

This story reminds us God always provides enough. Our problem is we are afraid it isn’t enough. From Adam and Eve not being satisfied and coveting the one thing they were told not to touch, to the Israelites trying to hoard manna, we are a “too much” people not satisfied with the abundance we have been given with “too much” of a focus on stuff rather than the Spirit.

Thankfully as Christmas transforms us, we see the love of God coming to life within our own hearts because of the Holy Spirit taking us on a journey. I witnessed it even during our white elephant exchange. One of the favored gifts was a box of jellies, fudge sauce and marinades which Julie stole from Jeff on her turn. But she didn’t just take, she took her gift and shared it with the one she had stolen it from.

This is the miracle we see happen in Scrooge’s life and this is the miracle that has begun in us. Fill your cup with good things this season and share God’s goodness with the world! God Bless us everyone!

Celebrating His Presence with You,

Pastor Tammy

Reflect: What do you fear you will not have enough of? Does this keep you from holding back love for a person, forgiveness, sharing your resources? What do the scriptures above say you receive when you live a generous life? Take time to read the news or drive to parts of town you know there is a need, to seek awareness of those who are in need in our city.

Encourage: Think of ways you can share your abundance of love and resources this season to encourage others. From investing in Eden Church as we grow into the future to be “A welcoming community seeking transformation through relationship with Jesus Christ as we encourage others to join us,” or buying gifts for the homeless (see this week’s Eden Weekly) to participating in the iServe Sunday on January 9th for our local mission trip to Christian Ministries.

Gather: Come together with your small group and share about how you can share the Christmas story with your family through the gifts you offer? What would those gifts look like? Encourage your Life Group or Sunday Study Group to participate in the January 9th local outreach event on iServe Sunday. Afterwards talk about the impact living a generous life has on your own desires to love God and love others.

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