"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
Christmas is all about giving. Do you remember when you first discovered that?
Several years ago, I was volunteering at an orphanage when a young boy asked me to buy a candy bar. As I looked at those familiar “America's Finest Chocolate” bars, I could only think of the calories and my waistline. So I refused. While I was still talking to him, an older minister walked up. When the young entrepreneur approached him, the man joyfully reached into his pocket and asked for $5 worth of chocolate. As I watched the boy skip away, I felt very small, mean, and dirty. I could have brought an orphan joy for just five dollars, but instead I thought only of myself. I made a vow soon after that to use whatever money I have to serve others whenever I can.
What made me feel so bad? I do not think it was shame or condemnation. I think something deeper caused my pain. I had denied my own character. You see, we Christians have been re-created in the image of God. By creation and by redemption, we have been fashioned after the image of the Father of lights who gives every good gift to us. When we give, we fulfill our destiny. When we give, we do what God created us to do, and we feel his pleasure.
This Christmas, we are once again giving you the chance to give. We have chosen three deserving recipients of this year's offering: City of Hope, AMA Cuba and the RiverOaks nursery. We chose these three because they need support and resources. But we have the Christmas offering for you. You getting excited about one or all of these ministries, and you deciding to use your resources for others, will lead you to the deepest sense of Christmas joy.
In the coming weeks, we will be telling you more about these great ministries, their vision, dreams, goals, and how you can help. But for now I am asking you to pray. Pray God will show you how generous his heart is. Pray God will fashion you even more to be like him. Pray that you will find joy in giving this Christmas.
Grace and Peace,
Ricky Jones for the staff and session of RiverOaks Presbyterian Church