Recently, I preached a sermon that concluded with a segment about alternative giving during the Advent Season (You can see it in full here). Following the worship service a man that I had never met before came up to me and said: “Great message, Thank You, you’ve actually helped me a lot today… Before I came to worship I had no idea what I was going to get my grandma for Christmas, but now, now I know!” “Oh yeah?” I replied, “What’s that?” He replied: “I’m getting her a goat!”
Actually, while the way in which the man said this made it sound pretty funny at the time – what he meant though was that he was going give to someone in need the goat in her name. “Grandma has everything she needs” he said, “I know she’ll appreciate this far more.”
Indeed the man had gotten the point of the message. As Rev. Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio likes to say often – “Christmas is not Your Birthday“. As followers of Jesus, many of us have all that we need and then some… If everyone simply matched their gift giving to their friends and family with gifts to the poor (or exclusively gave to the poor) the impact that we would be transformative.
Even more than that though, the man’s comment about “Grandma’s goat” also got me to thinking what could I specifically do this Christmas to encourage alternative giving in my social media networking circles and at the same time continue to get people to think ethically about the choices they make.
Initially, when I started this blog, one reason for doing so was to get people thinking about everyday situations in their lives that they might not otherwise consider – thus giving us all an impetus to intentionally think ethically about why we do what we do.
I think that there is a real importance in “doing” ethics in practice with other people in community – even when individuals in those communities may disagree with one another. The famed German theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer actually argues that this ethical deliberation in Christian community, by God’s grace, is what helps us to live most fully as human beings in the Imago Dei (Image of God). Bonheoffer’s argument is more ornate than that but that’s the general gist. I illuminate this point only to illustrate the rational behind why I actually write and encourage people to Subscribe to my Blog.
So after talking things through with my wife we came up with the following idea that we think is fun, and hopefully some of you will too.
We are going to raffle off the following through the World Vision Gift Catalog:
One First Prize: One Goat donated through World Vision to persons in need in a
blog subscriber’s name and a $25 Starbucks gift card to the blog
Two Second Place Prizes: Of Two Chickens through World Vision to persons in need
in a blog subscriber’s name each with a $25 Starbucks gift card.
So to qualify for the drawing, you simply need to add your email in the Email Subscription form on the right side of this page and then click “Sign Me Up”. An email will then be sent to you email address which you must confirm to be subscribed. Once you confirm the email you are automatically registered for the Alternative Giving Drawing and any future drawings. All persons already Subscribed to this blog are automatically entered to win. The drawing will be on December 18th 2011. All winners will be notified by email. The winners will have two days to respond or else the “prizes” will be awarded to the next drawn winner.
The method of the drawing will be super sophisticated either taking place by having some random toddler at Church choose the winners or by somehow involving one of the Benek cats. I can assure you that our cats are experts at this kind of thing.
To make it interesting we’ve included the Starbucks gift cards as gifts for this blog’s subscribers. If you are a winner in the drawing we will give you two options. You can:
A.) Take the Starbucks gift card and – Merry Christmas to You and the people you share it with.
B.) Decline the Starbucks gift card and we will DOUBLE your goat or chickens donation in your name through World Vision. The choice is yours.
C’mon – how Awesome would it be to tell someone you won a goat for Christmas? That is certainly a conversation starter at the very minimum!
Whether your name is drawn in our goofy contest or not, I want to seriously challenge you to give an alternative gift this Christmas to someone in need. There are many, many options out there and if you need a suggestion please feel free to email me directly and I would be happy to help you in your discernment process.
God has blessed us all so abundantly – so let us faithfully engage this Advent season in Christ’s call to worship and follow God.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below how God has called/inspired you to respond this Advent season.
May God Bless You and Yours as we humbly approach the Lord Jesus this Christmas.