It is clear throughout the biblical narrative that generosity is close to the heart of God.
Everyone remembers their favourite Christmas gift—I sure do. I was 11 years old, and leading up to Christmas, my brother and I were constantly asking my parents for one thing and one thing only—a guitar. I played piano as I grew up, but as soon as I saw some of my friends learning how to play the guitar, I knew that I also wanted to learn. My family always has a Christmas breakfast before we open presents. I remember sitting through breakfast that particular year, anxious to finish as soon as possible so we could start opening presents. The time finally came, and my brother and I ran to the Christmas tree. Waiting for us under the tree was a large box addressed to my brother and me. Together we ripped off the wrapping paper, and there it was—our first guitar!
I have a bit of a confession to make. I struggle with buying Christmas gifts. I would say that I’m a fairly creative person, but there are just so many options these days. With all the new technology and other items being released daily, it feels as though I am always left with an overabundance of choice. Once I finally make a decision, the next big thing has just been released, and my gift has been relegated to irrelevance. It seems like every year, the list of people to buy gifts for gets longer and longer, and when that happens, my list of gift ideas becomes smaller and smaller. When considering buying gifts, I often think back to the story of getting my first guitar. I want to give gifts to people that make them feel how I felt when I got my first guitar. I want to give gifts that are intentional, meaningful, and have the potential to bring joy to the recipients.
I often look back and reflect on the Gift that is the centre of this holiday. It’s easy to think about Christmas as a time that is primarily about giving and receiving gifts. But when I think about Christmas, I think about hope. When I consider the incredible gift of Jesus and the gifts of hope, healing, grace, mercy and forgiveness that He brought to the earth, it inspires me to view this season as a time I can use to be a part of God’s narrative of hope and redemption.
It is clear throughout the biblical narrative that generosity is close to the heart of God. In the Christmas story, you have the Magi who visit Jesus. They come to Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I’m a curious person, so one of my first thoughts was Why those gifts? I remember reading this passage as a kid and thinking to myself that these were random and useless gifts to give to an infant. As an adult, I now realize there was significance in each of those gifts based on the culture of the day. As I read a commentary about the passage found in Matthew 2, the author stated it was likely that when Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt, the Magi’s gift of gold helped to sustain them financially through that time.1 The generosity of the Magi was one part of God’s story of redemption and hope for the world. They probably never thought about the impact of that one act of generosity.
This past April, I had the opportunity to go to Zimbabwe and visit some of ERDO’s programs. I got to see first-hand how the different gifts in ERDO’s Christmas Catalogue were able to impact the lives of thousands of people. I saw how the school wells that were dug were used to water small school gardens which provided fresh vegetables for families in the community. I saw how the generosity of ordinary people provided clean water and fresh food in a place where food can be scarce. I saw how mothers not only had the opportunity to provide food for their families, but I also saw hope. It was a beautiful example of the people of God coming together to be a part of God’s narrative of hope and redemption.
What if we saw this season as a time when we get to be generous with our lives, bringing hope to others in a tangible way? What if we decided to engage in acts of generosity this Christmas season, even if they seem to be small and insignificant? The reality is this: we have the ultimate Gift and the opportunity to share the message of the hope, renewal and restoration that Jesus brings—with our words, but also with our actions. We get to give gifts like meals for schoolchildren in Zimbabwe or goats whose milk will nourish the children of a Kenyan widow or emergency food to Rohingya refugees who fled their homes in the middle of the night to escape horrific violence. We do all of this with the goal of being the hands of feet of Jesus, obeying what it says in 1 John 3:18—to love others from around the world “with actions and in truth.”
This Christmas, I’m challenging myself to be generous and intentional with my gifts, and I want to challenge you to do the same. I want to be able to say that my gifts not only brought joy, but also lasting change to people around the world.
Candice Mayers is the program analyst at ERDO. To learn more about ERDO’s Christmas Gift Catalogue, visit: erdo.ca/giftcatalogue.