Advent Week 2, Dec 13, 2013
Read Isaiah 40:4; Isaiah 55:1-2, Hebrews 12:12-13
It is so easy to get caught up in cultural expectations! How many of the following gift-giving “rules” do you inadvertently follow at Christmas? Are you modeling this behavior for your children and thus teaching them to be similarly obligated to these rules?
The Ten Hidden Gift-Giving Rules
Give a gift to everyone you expect to get one from.
If someone gives you a gift unexpectedly, reciprocate that year…
When you add a name to your gift list, give that person a gift every year thereafter.
The amount of money you spend on a gift determines how much you care about the recipient.
Gifts exchanged between adults should be roughly equal in value.
The presents you give someone should be fairly consistent in value over the years.
If you give a gift to a person in one category (for example, a co-worker or neighbor), give a gift to everyone in that category, and these gifts should be similar in value.
Women should give gifts to their close women friends.
Men should not give gifts to their male friends — unless those gifts are alcoholic beverages.
Whenever the above rules cause you any difficulty, remedy the situation by buying more gifts.
(– From Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli, (c) 1991)
Before God can free us of our unwitting compliance with our society’s commercialism, we have to be able to recognize it, recognize our involvement in it, and recognize our servitude to it. Perhaps this will be the year that you become aware of your own values and of the ways that you are — and the ways that you are not — able to live out your values at your job and with your family and neighbors, and friends.
Because so many of us are always trying to obey at least some of these “ten hidden rules,” you may find yourself locked into them again this year. Part of your witness, part of your calling to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God” and to “prepare the way for the people” may be to bring up the subject with your co-workers or your family or neighbors or friends and agree together this year to “do it differently” next year. Someone has to be the first to suggest it — and remember that those others in your circle of gift-giving are also caught up in the “ten hidden rules!” Your witness might free them as well as yourself!
Meditation: Examine the list you made earlier this week:
- Put a $ beside each item or event that costs more than $5 and $$ beside each one that costs more than $10.
- How many of the items on your list fall into that category? What does that tell you about your priorities?
- Whom do you think you might offend if you spent less? (Perhaps that person would be relieved!)
- Now put a cross beside each item on the list that helps or benefits someone who needs help