Two years ago, we started a new tradition at the annual youth Christmas party. For years, we would gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus by bringing a gender-neutral $10 gift and doing a gift exchange similar to a white elephant, but with slightly higher quality gifts.
As you might imagine, shopping for a $10 gender neutral gift for teenagers can be quite the challenge. Eventually, most of the gifts became gift cards. They were perfect because whoever got them could choose their own gift.
But did we really need to shuffle $10 gift cards between each other? What if there was a better way to celebrate? What if there was a more meaningful way?
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:1-2
God has blessed us in unbelievable ways, far beyond what we deserve. And while He blesses us out of His great love, there is also a greater purpose to our blessing. Like Abraham, we are to be a blessing to others.
So instead of swapping gifts, we now bring a donation of any amount and we pool it together. Everyone then gets an opportunity to decide how to turn the combined donations into a gift for others. We present a few options and then youth can choose how to help others, whether it’s providing Bibles to people in China or rescuing girls from the sex trade or providing food for kids around the world or helping families in need in our own country. Together, we use our blessings to bless others.
Are you holding on to your blessings, unwilling to be a blessing yourself? Or are you using them to bless others?
Jaime and I got to participate in the very first Baby Blessing event as part of our Everyday Faith program at church this morning. Some of the information we already knew, but it was good to hear it again. Some of it was new for us.
By far, the hardest part was trying to come up with a blessing to use for Addison. It was suggested that you may be able to build it around the meaning of your baby’s name. Doesn’t work so well for us, since Addison means “Son of Adam”. So we decided to use some of the story behind her middle-namesake: Naomi.
We have a draft—which I won’t share quite yet—but we wanted to include this section of Naomi’s story, spoken by Ruth to Naomi in Ruth 1:16:
For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
It’s hard to write a blessing for our dear little Addison, but we’re praying it will be one that is meaningful to her throughout her whole life.
Do you know the preceding part of this Bible verse? Paul writes, “Honor your father and mother–which is the first commandment with a promise–that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Parents love this commandment; youth are split on it. Regardless of how you feel, it’s part of God’s Word and so we teach it.
This evening at Cornerstone, we’ll be talking about this commandment and what it means for us today. We look at two key parts of this:
First, the obvious connection is that we should honor our parents. We talk about what that means from the time we are little to the time we are old. We never outgrow the command.
Second, we look at honoring the authorities that God has placed over us to provide order and care for us. In fancy theological language, we call this “masks of God.” Essentially, God is working through sinful people in positions of authority to care for people.
What are some ways that you have honored your parents over the years?
I am the husband of one and father of three. I work at First Trinity, where I help facilitate worship planning, guide our communications process and minister to Middle School students.
I also dabble in writing online and building websites.