Alternative Giving – True Advent

It is hard to believe I haven’t written here since mid November.  The days approaching and beginning Advent have been so full. For the most part, full has also been good.  Good conversations with members of the congregation and some who are new to the community.  These have included fun reflections with congregation members on alternative giving as we prepared for our Advent/Christmas congregational dinner.  I have been touched in hearing peoples stories both before, during, and after the dinner discussion.  So many of our folks are creative and thoughtful in giving.  People have shared their practices of “green” giving, and of giving handmade gifts.  They have shared their passion for giving gifts in honor of those they love to organizations that aid people who are struggling.  Some of the organizations highlighted in our celebration on Sunday were:  Global Ministries (of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ), Heifer International, Church World Service, Plowsharing Crafts (Ten Thousand Villages),  Isaiah 58 Ministries (our ecumenical St. Louis urban ministry), Cornerstone Early Learning Center (a wonderful urban child care program).   These are, of course, only a few of the many, many possible ways to give.  One person shared that she and her husband are giving people a tree ornament with a wildlife image and the note that a gift has been given in their honor to a wildlife preservation organization that is important to them.  Another shared that last year she and her husband gave canvas shopping bags and puff paints so that people could decorate their own shopping bags.  This year they are giving energy saving lightbulbs in reusable containers.  Last year my husband gave me a gift certificate to my favorite second hand clothing shop.  He knows that I get much more joy out of a “real find” in recycled clothing than something expensive and new.

Tonight when my husband and I were purchasing some wrapping paper, he said “Well, I don’t know how we’re going to wrap a water buffalo anyway!”  He was referring to our bulletin board bearing the Church World Service line “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a water buffalo.”

After  Sunday’s dinner, someone came up to me and said that in our discussion she was reminded of how important it is to be able to receive graciously when we are more comfortable giving.  How true that is.

In recent weeks we have received some wonderful gifts for “Compton Cares” our effort to make our congregation’s building more accessible for our ministries.  People are so generous and truly want to give.  I am deeply moved by this passion for Christ’s ministry in this place.

I have a sense in this Advent, that many are truly welcoming the Christ who comes into the world with healing and love.