The month of December is paradoxical. There’s no other way to say it. From one perspective, this month is sacred. Our Western culture is more religious this time of year. We have extra worship services, festivals, rituals, and traditions to honor. These events help us understand our identity and collective stories as people of God.

From a completely different perspective though, this month promotes commercialism and greed on large levels. Whether it’s Black Friday sales or end of the year markdowns, there is so much to purchase that supposedly will make our lives, and the lives of others, so much better. A stranger from the outside might think it is our civic responsibility to spend money so we can have the latest and greatest, or at the least, the best gift available to give to someone else.

Now I think it’s wonderful we can maximize all this month has to offer. Like many of you, I enjoy following the sales and purchasing something new for myself or someone close to me. But, of course, there has to be a balance. And if we are not balanced, our human condition is often exposed. I think it’s fair to say that we want to lean more on giving to others than spending for ourselves. It was Anne Frank who said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

So maybe the challenge for each of us this month is to consider what we can do to get outside our comfort zone and help someone else. We have special advent offering recipients you can support at church. You can take a tag off the angel tree and purchase a gift for a child from a family in need too. You can also support many of the ministry organizations in our local community. Additionally, a pleasant conversation with a lonely neighbor can go a long way.

This month, I encourage you to live it up to the fullest, but go the extra mile assisting others. As we celebrate God giving us the greatest gift, Jesus, might we prayerfully consider the gifts we can offer others.

Advent and Christmas blessings to each of you! Scott