Advent Day 2: Generosity

bringing offerings is futile;
     incense is an abomination to me. … 
cease to do evil, 
   learn to do good;
seek justice,
     rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
     plead for the widow.  (from Isaiah 1)

Today is Cyber Monday, a new holiday shopping trend geared for the buyer of technology.  (Did it ever occur to anyone that most of us are supposed to be at school or work today?  Well, I suppose that since we can carry work into our free time thanks to the Internet, why not take online shopping to work?)

To be fair, I am doing Christmas shopping too, although probably not today.  Of course I want to give gifts to my loved ones, as a way of showing I care about them. 

You read it right.  I am planning to demonstrate my love through giving away material things.  Before you have a fit, let me ask you:  how else am I supposed to do it?  I can say “I love you” all day, but if my bills show that I only spend money on myself, those three words lose some of their luster.  This is about more than “having a Christmas spirit”:  it’s about thinking of others when you make financial commitments.  It’s about swiping your debit card on someone else’s behalf, instead of on another latte for yourself.

In chapter 1 of the book of Isaiah, the voice of God comes lashing out against the supposedly holy people, who praised God with fancy words and expensive rituals, but never took a moment to consider the needs of others.  In essence, God says, “Put your money where your mouth is.  Show me you love me by caring for my people.”

Today’s spiritual practice is generosity.  To me, generosity means showing you care in both word and deed (or word and wallet.) 

One way to practice generosity would be to make some donations this season.  Try the Heifer Project or the many microfinance programs available, which allow people to make use of existing technology and even develop their own.

Also try practicing generosity by giving meaningful gifts.  Give some careful thought to any gifts you buy this season:  are they useless, flashy junk, like the incense despised by God?  Or do they symbolize the sacrifices you make when you care for others?  And think about this too:  does going deep in debt at Christmas mean that you’re generous or irresponsible? 

Can you spend a month balancing word and wallet?

Today’s Scripture reading from the PC(USA):

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