Sunday, December 23, 2007

Zacchaeus' Christmas

Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see
And as the Lord came by that day He looked up in the tree
And He said, "Zacchaeus! You come down!
For I'm going to your house today,
For I'm going to your house today."

Luke 19:8 - But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor..."

We first got the idea to give half our Christmas budget to the poor after reading a book called "How Much Is Enough" by Arthur Simon, at the recommendation of my brother-in-law, Alex. It was a great, thought-provoking book about how our Christian faith applies in the affluent culture in which we live. Simon offers many suggestions for loosening the grip of materialism and consumerism in our lives and doing something good with the resources God has given to us. One of his suggestions was, instead of spending so much money at Christmas on your friends and family who probably lack none of the essentials of life, why not consider meeting some real, life-or-death needs?

Although we read this book more than a year ago, we finally decided this year we would act on this suggestion. We decided on our Christmas budget, then cut it in half and divvied it up among the nieces, nephews, and certain other family and friends to whom we intended to give gifts. And for each person we gave a gift, we also gave at least an equally-valued gift in their honor to help rescue people from poverty. We did this though World Vision, which has a really cool Gift Catalog on its website where you can buy all kinds of life- and hope- giving gifts for people living in extreme poverty in our world. You can honor anyone with your gifts, and send them a card or e-card to let them know what you've done on their behalf. Please take some time to check it out. They have a wide selection of gifts for any budget. You could give a share of an alpaca for $15, or fund a new deep well for disease-free water for a whole village for a mere 18 large. :)

We hope to make this a tradition in our family, by sharing at least half our Christmas with the poor each December. These are gifts that can save lives. What a great way to honor friends and family in the spirit of the season. Merry Christmas!