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Saturday, November 27, 2004
The Practice of Reversal
Late this morning I made my way out into our garage to do some pre-winter cleaning. It is both disgusting and convicting to have so much stuff we don't need out there. And then to contemplate another truck load of stuff headed our way this Christmas. More than ever, I want to reappropriate Christmas. It strikes me as completely inane to continue in the consumeristic matrix. Why do we just keep getting and giving more and more stuff? Wouldn't it be great if we opted out of all that buying and owning and instead pooled our monies into a huge anonymous fund, wiring it as a surprise to thousands of orphanages around the world on Christmas morning. This would get us closer to Mary's prayer (Luke 1)

52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
       but has lifted up the humble.
    53He has filled the hungry with good things
       but has sent the rich away empty.
    54He has helped his servant Israel,
       remembering to be merciful

Christmas could be a time of inventing a new practice: reversal.

The Bible defines rich far below the threshold of Forbes Magazine or VH1's Fabulous Life. Once I heard Billy Abraham cite John the Baptist's definition of being rich as "two coats." If I were pastoring a church-- and someday maybe I'll get that assignment-- I've got some fun ideas. Early in Advent we would invite everyone to bring a coat to church to give away. Once everyone was safely locked inside the building we would give them two choices. They could come to the alter and leave behind 1. The coat they brought to give away, or 2. The nicer coat they were wearing, leaving them with the old coat to take home and wear. Option 2 reveals the practice of reversal. What a living reminder! All winter long as the old coat got worn, its wearer would think and pray and rejoice over some poor person being blessed with their nice new Gap winter coat.

It would be interesting to see what other imaginative ideas of the practice of reversal a congregation could dream up.

What if for one month we practiced reversal in giving. We would give 90% of our income to the Kingdom and keep 10%.

Back to the garage. Our son, David (4), obviously inspired by my "stuff reorganization" began to go through a lot of his stuff. Donning a Santa Hat underneath his crash helmet, he rode his scooter around the driveway. Each lap he would pick up one of his toys and give it to me, shouting Ho Ho Ho. I overheard him out in the street at one point shouting in his best Santa vocal in the cadence of the closing words of "The Night Before Christmas," "Forgiveness to All and to all a Good night."


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posted by John David Walt | at 11/27/2004 01:30:00 PM



Blogger JohnDeere said...

It strikes me that ringing a bell for the salvation army is a form of reversal at Christmas time. In doing so you put yourself in the place of the beggar and ask for help.

2:44 PM EST  
Blogger jeana said...

I found you!

on the radio station I listen to they are advertising a "Shoe Drive" for kids in Eastern Kentucky who have no shoes... when you bring your pair of old, yet wearable shoes in to donate a shoe store in town will give you $10 off a purchase of new shoes at their store. I'm a bit bothered by it.. 1. We have to give incentives to get people to donate? 2. Why doesn't the shoe store just donate new shoes? (I know the answer to this... free coupons would mean more business).. What if, instead of coats.. it were shoes..? old shoes brought, new shoes worn, and at the end of the day we wore our old shoes home. it might bring a new understanding to 'walk a mile in their shoes'...

11:03 PM EST  

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