Saturday, December 20, 2008

Engaging Father Christmas

Hello everyone. I'm opting out for this Sunday only, to post this wonderful note from Robin Jones Gunn. But I do want to wish you all a truly blessed Christmas!
Marcia Laycock (Sunday devotional columnist).

What does a cuddly couple at a cozy cottage in England have to do with a cup of cool water in Jesus’ name?

Well, let me tell you a little story. Something happened while I was writing Engaging Father Christmas. Our church, Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon, launched the Advent Conspiracy. (

We all know the focus of Christmas is Christ, yet we’ve gotten so off track. How do we pull back and redirect our attention so that this time of year returns to a time of celebration and worship?
Our church tried something new several years ago. We purposed as a church body that advent and Christmas would be a time for us to give relationally since that is how God gave on that first Christmas when He gave us His Son.

In deliberate ways we sought to pull back in our spending and our giving of “things” in order to open our hearts and give relationally. The results were lovely, lingering times over cocoa and cookies with friends. Parents gave simple gifts to their children, such as a catchers’ mitt, along with a handwritten note listing the promised times dad would take them to the ball field.

Many families chose to take the money they would have spent on “stuff” that had no relational connection and give that money for several relationally based projects our church wanted to pursue. One of those projects was digging wells in Africa to provide clean water in the villages.

To our surprise, the Christmas Day offering tumbled in at over $100,000. Last Christmas the amount was over $200,000. Wells were dug in Africa. Village children have been restored to health. Schools have been started. A team from Imago Dei, including medical support, just returned from one of the villages as we continue to give relationally.

As a church family, we tried finding ways to give less “stuff” to our loved ones and simply let them know they really are our loved ones.

One of my Sisterchicks gave me words instead of our usual exchange of a “this-or-that”. We met for tea and she handed me a card. Words are not her usual means of expression so when I read what our friendship means to her, I cried. Her card is still in my Bible. The money she would have spent on a “whatever” gift for me went to Africa instead. And now someone on the other side of this spinning orb is sipping clean water.

That’s when I knew that a portion of all the sales proceeds from my two Christmas novellas would go into the Advent Conspiracy collection. These two books, Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas came from a cozy corner of my heart. Sales proceeds will now go to a not so cozy corner of the world in order to give a cup of cool water in Jesus’ name.

One of my favorite gifts last Christmas was a book my son gave me. It was small and soothing and just what my heart needed. I love the way books have that beautiful ability to tuck our hearts in under their covers and whisper to us in the places that need courage and hope and peace.

It is my prayer that these two Christmas novellas might be that same sort of gift to your heart or to the heart of someone you love. Simple. And so far reaching.

Robin Jones Gunn is the best-selling author of sixty books, representing 3.5 million copies sold. A dozen of her novels have appeared at the top of the CBA bestseller list, including her wildly successful Sisterchicks series. Thousands of teens from around the world have written to her sharing how God used the Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen series both to bring them to Christ and to lead them to make life-changing decisions regarding purity.Gunn and her husband of thirty years live near Portland, OR, where they are members of Imago Dei Community along with other Christian authors, including Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz. You can learn more about Gunn online at


Melissa Marsh said...

Wow. What an incredibly awesome thing to do. I love the idea of "relationally" gifts. Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing.