Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gifts for Christmas ... Luxury

We hosted a Christmas party for our language school while living in the Philippines. It was a warm (in every way) gathering of missionaries, language teachers, children, and language helping friends. At a party such as that, the food is the centerpiece, and our table was overflowing with the best the guests could offer.

Once most people had arrived we began to wonder if our dear friends Randal and Pia would be coming. With the celebration about to start, we heard the small sound of a motorbike coming to us down the road. As happens so often in many countries, the whole family was piled on the bike, arriving with mom, dad, toddler, and a large pot in their arms. It was not unusual, displaying a balance acquired from life where such risks are required. Our friends had been a huge help with our language and culture learning, and we knew from our friendship that their resources were very limited. We told them to come, but we let them know a food offering was not necessary.

When they dismounted the bike, they were smiling as they presented us with a large aluminum pot, big enough to bathe a newborn or bob for apples. "We're so sorry we are late; we had to make the rice," they laughed. Carrying the enormous pot into the sala (living room) we maneuvered a spot on the table to place the large kettle, and we peeked in to find a deep portion of white rice filling the cavernous pot.

Rice is a staple in much of the world, and American visitors may consider it the cheapest of foods, but we knew this gift was truly a luxury to our dear friends. What they offered represented many meals and a sacrifice. It was precious. There were many beautiful and exotic dishes that day, but I remember the swollen pot of white rice, for it was a luxury joyfully given away.

We like to give things that don't cost a lot. This year, Wal-mart is advertising that "Christmas costs less" at Wal-mart. We are inspired by the chance to minimize our cost, but love is often expressed by those who give what costs them most.

When the widow gave her mite, that was a gift of luxury. When Mary poured the oil all over Jesus' feet, it was a gift of luxury. When Barnabas sold his land to give money to the early church, that was a gift of luxury.

Acts 4:36-37 (New International Version)

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.

When an older lady in another state,whose son goes to my church, heard about our Scarves for Knoxville ministry, she knitted a box FULL of scarves and MAILED them to us to give to homeless and abused women of our city ... a gift of luxury.

This past Saturday women of our church came to wrap the 250+ scarves to be given away. I know it was a busy time before Christmas, and some had families at home wanting to play in the rare Saturday morning snow, but they came. There time was a gift of luxury.

Not sure what the Lord will ask me to give this Christmas or what He will ask you to give, but I pray that when there's a chance to give ... we'll get out the biggest pot we have, fill it full, and present it with joy!

3 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Anonymous said...

Jul, that was beautiful. So refreshing when it's easy to get stressed about "what" to give. I hope I can discard the pressure from the world and our crazy culture and see things God's way. Love, Jenny C.

Sanders said...

Your stories are so beautiful and inspirational, thank you so much for sharing them.

Brook said...

thanks for sharing your stories...god bless,

Brook