Monday, November 21, 2011

Want high returns on your investment?

Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns.  Don't hoard your goods; spread them around.  Be a blessing to others.
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 The Message)

In the United States, this is the week of Thanksgiving.  We will gather around tables across our nation with friends and family this Thursday to celebrate the season of harvest that our forefathers began so many years ago in Plymouth.  The celebration of harvest was something to relish, as the hard work of the year was drawing to a close, and the land would soon lay at rest for while prior to the planting of the next crops.  We've lost that sense of celebrating harvest over the years as our country has become far more of a manufacturing country and a lot less of an agricultural country.  Yet, we continue the celebration without any real connection to its original meaning.

In many ways, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the season we call our "holiday" season.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, families begin to prepare for Christmas by hanging lights, erecting decorated trees, and bringing out the nativity scene.  The stores begin to fill with all kinds of reminders that this is a season of "giving" - urging us to purchase, purchase, purchase.  The wee ones clamor for a place in line to sit on the lap of a jolly Santa figure who will listen to their pleas for a certain toy or a new bike.  In fact, over the last 20 years or so, we have seen the trend to celebrate what can only be known as the season of "HalloThanksMas".  It is the season where Halloween candy is just barely out the door, Thanksgiving decor is ushered in, and Christmas ornaments are not far behind!

I heard an interesting statistic just before Halloween that made me ponder for a while.  The reporter shared that in today's economy (and for many years now), the holiday where the most money is spent per member of the household is Christmas.  But....the second most celebrated (and costly) "holiday" is Halloween!  Does that surprise you?  Well, the statistic showed that the average household spends around $250 per person to celebrate Halloween!  Than included costumes, candy, decorations, and the parties.  Ummm...I don't know about you, but I think that is crazy!  I cannot remember the statistic for Christmas, but I was totally amazed at the amount spent on celebrating Halloween, a celebration with "roots" in celebrating the dead!

Somewhere in the mix of things, Thanksgiving took a backseat as the "beginning" of the holiday "season"!  I think we might want to reconsider our focus on this holiday!  You see, I believe that in opening our heart to the spirit of being grateful, we are opening our heart to share with others.  When we see how tremendously we have been blessed, we cannot help but want to share our blessing with others.  I don't know how God is challenging you to be a blessing to someone this holiday season, but if you reflect long enough on how his grace has changed your life, what his love continually provides, and the keeping power of his protection over your life, you will begin this holiday season well!

There are many who need nothing more than your love - evidenced in your investment of time in their lives.  There are others who need your hands - bringing them skilled help where they can no longer do the work themselves.  Then there are those that need our resources - filling their hungry bellies with nourishing meals.  Whatever God moves you toward - do it!  Don't be stingy in your THANKS - be generous in your GIVING!  Have a blessed beginning to your holiday season!

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