Christmas Pack #15
The Gift of GivingIndex for this Section
- Bible Readings and Discussion
- Closing Prayer
- A Discussion Guide
- Discussion Questions
- Group Activity
- Opening Prayer
The Gift of Giving
How do we learn about giving gifts? Where do we learn what a gift is? For many of us, advertisers are our primary educators in the art of giving. The television has become the classroom and the commercial, our teacher. Year after year advertisers dazzle us with a seemingly endless bounty of products to buy as gifts. The Bible, on the other hand, has a different perspective. While our consumer society teaches us to focus on the objects given, the Word of God can show us a "still more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:31), a way that communicates our faith, hope and love.
Designed for an hour-long session, this discussion guide can be used with young adult and adult Sunday school classes or workshop participants. With some adaptation, it can also be used with youth groups. Through The Gift of Giving people will be encouraged and empowered to make changes in the way they think about Christmas giving.
Read the entire guide in advance. Be prepared to bring to your gathering a Bible (New Revised Standard Version), several envelopes, a chalkboard and chalk or a large pad of paper and markers. You may also consider having Alternatives' Guidelines for Alternative Giving available as a hand-out when this session is completed. Before the discussion session begins, photocopy the gift examples from the insert enclosed. Cut apart the examples and place each one in a separate envelope. Write each gift title on the outside of the appropriate envelope and then seal the envelopes.
Gather everyone and have an individual lead the group in an opening prayer. Use the following or create one of your own:
PRAYER: Creator God, we gather together to receive. Open our hearts and minds to the gifts your Word can bring to us. We long to become faithful givers, especially during the season we celebrate the birth of your Son. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Ask for volunteers to read aloud from the New Revised Standard Version the Bible verses cited below. Encourage participants to answer the questions which follow each verse. In larger classes, consider gathering into smaller groups of five to eight people.
Read aloud Luke 6:37-38. Discuss the following questions:
- Why do you think Jesus included giving along with judging, condemning and forgiving? (Hint: Notice how the commands work in pairs - judge and condemn, forgive and give.)
- What do we communicate when we give someone a gift?
Read aloud 2 Corinthians 9:6. Discuss the following questions:
- Does this verse support an attitude of reciprocity? In other words, is Paul saying, "I am going to sow bountifully so I can increase the measure I receive"? Why or why not?
- Can you think of any gifts you have given under "compulsion"?
Pass out the envelopes containing the gift examples. Tell the group not to open the envelopes until they are instructed.
When you call out a gift title, ask the person holding that envelope to read that story to the group. Call out the examples in this order: A Gift of Talent, A Gift of Time, A Gift of Memories and A Thoughtful Purchase. After each example is read, allow time for people to respond to the following question: "What does this gift communicate?" Ask the group to be specific.
The remaining eight examples should be read in pairs. After each pair is read, ask people to describe the message each gift carries. Ask for participants to read the gift stories in this order:
Ask participants to share their own stories. Break into small groups if you desire.
- What was the most memorable gift you have received? What was special about it?
- Have you ever given an unusual or special gift? What did the gift communicate?
- Have you ever waited until the last minute to purchase a gift? Did you feel pressured? Were you happy with your gift choice?
- Are there gifts that are more suited to Christmas giving? What might be an appropriate gift? An inappropriate gift?
- Have you ever given a birthday gift to Jesus? What was it?
- What do you truly want for Christmas? How can you make your desires known?
(If you have Alternatives' Guidelines to Alternative Giving, now would be a good time to make them available.)
Creator God, our consumer culture has distorted our notions of what it means to give. Help us to see beyond the advertisements, the shopping malls, the television commercials. Teach us how to give as you would have us give. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Make copies of this resource under the Creative Commons attribution, not-for-profit license.
Simple Living Works! * SimpleLivingWorks@Yahoo.com
BLOG: SimpleLivingWorks.WordPress.com | Blog INDEX
PODCAST | Podcast INDEX
MISSION: Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly // An all volunteer educational organization.