The Confession: When Luke and I first started talking about a project like this, about reevaluating our status quo and seeking to let our lives better reflect our priorities, the first thing that grabbed my heart and filled me with panic was "but...but...but...what about Christmas?"
It's like part of me was saying "Okay God. You can turn our lives upside down. Change our hearts. Convict us of our apathy. Break our hearts with what breaks yours. Show us your way, your truth, your life in a way we've never encountered before. Just don't touch Christmas, capeesh?
Because, honestly, Lord, I kinda like celebrating Christmas my way."
But God is changing our hearts.
The Task: This year we are committing to give away to those in need, dollar for dollar, just as much as we spend on Christmas.
And since we aren't loaded stinkin' rich or using our credit cards, practically speaking that means that we have half as much as normal to spend on Christmas this year.
The Why: Where do I start? Sometimes you need to do something because the very thought of it makes your mind and heart go to war.
Like when you're standing in the bathroom mirror, fiddling with your dreadlocks, saying "Half? Really? Could we do it? I mean...will we have enough? For presents? And a tree? And a turkey?"
"...but presents are already a good charitable thing, right? Surely Jesus doesn't want me to cut back on those."
"And the cute photo cards like last year. Those are a must...aren't they?"
But I can't continue spending my life praying words like "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven." and then ignoring his call to actually be His hands and feet, to bring His justice, His reconciliation, and His economy of love to a community in need. I can't have one foot in God's radical backwards kingdom where the least is most and the poor is rich and the blind will see while having the other foot firmly planted at the local stuff-mart.
Scripturally, if we have more than we need it belongs to the poor. John the baptist instructed people who have two shirts to give one to the poor. (Luke 3:11) and Jesus tells a Pharisee to hold feasts, not for his friends and family, but for the poor and maimed who cannot repay his kindness. (Luke 14:12-14). We're also told to give to anybody who asks us (Matthew 5:42) and to love our neighbour as ourselves. (Mathew 22:39)
I'm not going to pretend to have these verses all figured out. It is no easy calling. But it seems pretty clear to me that Jesus wants bigger things for his people than shiny trinkets and obligatory sweater gifts.
The Verdict: So we are saving for Christmas like we always do around this time of year. From each paycheck, we add a few bucks to an envelope. Only this year we do it knowing that half of it is going to our local homeless shelter. And I have become really excited about this decision.
The Dare: Normally I tell people that this is our journey to simplicity and that we have no expectations that others will do what we do. We are sharing our lives, not asking you to change yours. We don't expect you to get dreadlocks, or give up paper towels or to put your bed on the floor. But tonight, if it's okay, I would like to dare some of you to make a similar commitment. I trust you'll know if God is drawing your heart to that same place, even if part of you is running away screaming inside.
In the words of Basil the great. “When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”
We are doing one small thing (almost) every day for a year to create a simpler, quieter, more intentional life. Take a moment to read all About Us, check out The Rules of our year long project and sign up for our RSS feed or "like" us on facebook so that you can follow our journey to radical simplicity!