In his wonderful book, Reflections on My Call to Preach: Connecting the Dots, one of my favorite preachers, Fred Craddock, tells stories of his family and the abject poverty they faced during his early years. One December, when the Depression was at its worst, the family purse was truly empty. Though the family always made a big game out of trying to catch Santa in the act of delivering presents, Craddock had overheard his mother telling his father that they couldn’t afford anything for Christmas that year. There was just no way to buy anything. On Christmas morning, however, the shoeboxes that had been set out in expectation of Santa held their annual goodies. Each one had an apple, a tangerine, raisins still on the stem, a box of sparklers, and a packet of Black Cat firecrackers. It may not seem like much to most of us, but it was a normal Christmas for that family at the time.
Craddock didn’t learn until at least 10 years later how they were able to afford gifts that year. His father had used a pair of pliers to pull out one of his molars. That molar had a gold crown that had been put there by an Army dentist during World War I. His dad had removed that crown on his own and gone to town to sell the gold in order to get enough money to afford Christmas presents for his family.
Reading this story of a father’s sacrificial generosity helped me think afresh of the sacrificial generosity of our Heavenly Father who sent His only Son into the world. As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us remember and give thanks for God’s wonderful and life-changing gift. What a wonderful Father we have!
Furthermore, as we recall God’s great gifts to us, may we be motivated and inspired to give faithfully ourselves. We have so many opportunities to be generous this season – giving to Global Missions Offering, bringing food for the Yates Association Food Pantry (which continues to have a desperate need for food), donating homemade cookies for inmates at the women’s prison, and supporting various ministries that support families in need. I was pleased by how many toys our church donated to the Yates Association Toy Store and appreciate the faithfulness I see in you all. As the season continues, let us keep in mind the message of Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”