The holidays are coming fast. Christmas advertisements have already begun, and the commercial moguls of our culture are priming us to purchase gifts and gadgets that we must acquire before supplies are gone. During the next few months our lives will seem to revolve around getting and giving gifts, leaving us little time in our frenetic pace of activities and shopping sprees to model the gratitude and generosity which were the original hallmarks of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Some people focus their lives on Black Friday Sales rather than on family during Thanksgiving. Subtly, a time of giving thanks has morphed into a preparation for getting items on sale. I’ve seen people leave family gatherings early just to stand in line for the midnight sale opening.
After a weekend of rest, advertisers then prepare us for Cyber Monday. We browse the internet to see what new gadget we can purchase for people we expect are planning to give us similar items for Christmas. Santa parades bringing gifts are the focus, not the One who offers the eternal gift.
Through the season of a purchasing frenzy, what if we decided to take a few moments to give even a small percentage of our spending to others who could receive enormous benefit from our kindness, and from whom we won’t likely receive anything in return? That is true generosity. What if we took the weekend after Thanksgiving to reflect on the amazing gift of love and life offered by a gracious God, and ask for His wisdom to live generously as disciples? What if we shared thoughts of thankfulness on our Facebook pages, and then sent them to the entire UCA family, and ultimately to our entire friend network, so that all might be encouraged by the ways God is at work in our lives?
Speaking of Facebook – have you visited the UCA Facebook page lately? You can access it by clicking on the link on the bottom of the front page of www.ucaeducation.org or if you want pictures galore, go to the Instagarm link next to it. I’m personally not a social media guru, but from what I hear, the news of UCA can spread quickly by us “liking” or “friending” the UCA page, and letting others know about it.
As UCA grows technologically we are trying to involve more and more people in our social media network. It is our way of being “in the world,” but in a way that we are not “of the world,” seeking to be the light of Christ on social media. In John 17:18 Jesus prays, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” He was regularly involved in activities of life while reflecting a Godly attitude and behavior that was unique. We want our presence on social media sites to give witness to a community of faith that is a light to the world, reflecting God’s love in all ways.
Five years ago a movement of giving began called #Giving Tuesday. It was promoted as “a day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.” UCA is part of the #Giving Tuesday effort, in hopes of expanding our network of ministry partners in prayer and support.
The official promotion of #Giving Tuesday says, “Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Created by the team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y—a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around the values of service and giving back—#GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving. A team of influencers and founding partners joined forces, collaborating across sectors, offering expertise and working tirelessly, to launch #GivingTuesday and have continued to shape, grow and strengthen the movement. Today it has spread to 71 nations, raising millions from social media to support nonprofit organizations.”
Using email, Facebook, and Instagram, UCA wants to get the conversation started, sharing how God is at work in the mission of the school and encouraging others to become part of the UCA community. We have some Good News to share in Christ, and we have wonderful news to share about the growth and education of our students. During the coming weeks we will begin to share the stories and ideas on Facebook. On #Giving Tuesday we will offer an alternative to the commercial events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday by encouraging hundreds to “like” UCA.
Watch for these stories, and help us launch #Giving Tuesday, UCA style. In fact, send us your stories, your thoughts, your words of thanks regarding what God is doing in your lives through the ministry of UCA.
In anticipation of God’s future,
Rev. Carpenter, Interim Head of School