If you look around now, you will see all of the tell-tale signs of the Christmas shopping season: Stores decorated and lit up, newspapers stuffed with advertisements, e-mails telling about the great Cyber-Monday deals, shopping center parking lots filled with cars, Salvation Army kettle ringers, sleep deprived people driving from store to store on Black Friday, people in a hurry and looking stressed/haggard, and the smell of pepper spray in the Wal-Mart parking lot. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Okay, sot his last paragraph was written with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. However, we Americans have left ourselves open to such ridicule because of our obsessions with material possessions at this time of the year. Yet as a Southern Baptist, there is another tell-tale sign of the celebration of Jesus' advent: The Lottie Moon Christmas offering for International Missions. The uninitiated may ask, "Who is Lottie Moon and why does she want my money"? Well, she doesn't really want our money since she died in 1912. However, she was a Southern Baptist missionary to China who gave her life to spread the message of Christmas/Easter with the Chinese people. She also worked tirelessly to get SBC churches in America to support spreading the Gospel to International lands. Long before the Internet and e-mails, she wrote letters in her own hand and mailed them to churches and individuals. So the Southern Baptist Convention has named the offering to support International missions after her. In reality, the over 3,000 career SBC missionaries are the ones who need our money so they can continue to see a Kingdom harvest.
The International Mission Board estimates that there are over 11,545 people groups in the world. Of those, there are 6,672 who have a population of less than 2% Christians. 3,575 of those people groups are not actively engaged by any Christian mission group or movement. So we are facing a huge task as we look at the need for Christ in our world today. Most of us will not be able to go and spend our lives sharing Christ with one of these people groups. However, as we mentioned in Sunday's sermon, we can make a difference by giving so others can go. Some are "Goers" and some are "Givers". If we aren't going, we should be giving. Don't get sidetracked by the amount of the gift because a little goes a long way in the hands of the King of Kings.
This Saturday, our Missions/Outreach Committee is hosting a White Elephant auction with the proceeds going to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. We will decorate the church at 2:00, have our coffeehouse at 3:00 and then have our auction at 4:00. So bring your wallet, your wrapped white elephant gift along with a spirit of giving and adventure as we begin our journey towards reaching our goal of $2,012.
Which brings me full circle in this blog. You can fight the crowds or spend all day on line looking for the perfect gift which probably won't last past Christmas Day. Or you can make an investment in eternity by giving to International Missions. It doesn't have to be an either/or proposition, but for most of us to give to missions, we will need to make some sacrifices in our Christmas spending. Giving to the Lottie Moon offering will make a difference for people in foreign lands. I believe that you will be greeted in Heaven by those who have heard/responded to the Gospel through the opportunity you gave them with your financial support. Think and decide which gift is best and make this Advent season really count. See you Saturday.