What kinds of things come to mind when you hear that word? Peace? Quiet? Preparation of one’s heart for the coming of the Saviour?
Or is it more like rush, rush, bustle, parties, glitz, shopping, wrapping, late nights, preparing food, guests, rush, busy, packed-out-schedules, more shopping, rush, gifts, decorating…
How would Jesus want us to celebrate his birthday? Have you ever given thought to the idea that we could possibly reclaim Christmas from the gods of materialism and consumerism, and point the way to a different way of celebrating?
After all, when we remember what happened at Christmas, our omnipotent, all-powerful God, who created heaven and earth, folded Himself up into the helpless form of a vulnerable baby, and was born in the dirt and dust of an animal shelter. And I’m pretty certain that Mary and Joseph were not financially well-off folk with a retirement savings plan in place.
Last Sunday in the board room of our church, a group of us gathered to brainstorm. We shared ideas about ways that we can make Christmas and Advent more focused on Christ, and less focused on shopping, on consuming, and on crazy schedules that make us need a holiday after the holiday.
I decided to put together a resource sheet on things that we discussed so that you, in your own grassroots-kind-of-way, could decide what you as an individual (or family) could do to celebrate Christ or prepare your heart for Advent…differently.
This brainstorm session was inspired by the Advent Conspiracy.
– purge closets and give to charities from excess – Bibles for Missions, etc
– Help with the Christmas hamper collection, sorting and delivering at your church.
– Encourage school councils to consider Adopt-a-Family instead of teacher gifts
– Provide child care or help for a single parent
– Drop cookies off at a drop-in center, or your neighbours’ homes
– Host an international student for Christmas dinner
– Catherine Killen – Handshoez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
– Charlene Downey & Judy Witty – Noggins (email@example.com)
– Catherine Robertson – Elanne & Ivy (www.elanneivy.com)
– Market crafters
– gifts of time – certificates for spending time together in a fun activity
– coupons for children to Children’s Art Factory or Play with Clay
– book exchange rather than a gift exchange – everyone comes with a book and leaves with a book
– www.flylady.net – clutter-free gift ideas under “Cruising through the Holidays”
– www.kiva.org – provide someone you love with a gift certificate that enables them to choose to help finance a microloan in a developing country
– gift catalogues from World Vision, PLAN, Oxfam
– Voice of the Martyrs – $35 to encourage a Christian family in an area of persecution
– www.projectpeanutbutter.org helps to nourish children in need
– www.joynindia.com provides a way to buy products by artisans in India
– www.3cordshaiti.com enables Haitian women to provide income for their families
Cutting down on Craziness
– why not move a get-together event to January? For example, instead of a Christmas open house for your neighbours why not a January evening instead?
– When getting together with others, make it a potluck to cut down on work!
– Avoid the mall (see above gift ideas…)
– Sit down and decide what are the really important events to attend, and which ones you can let go of
– Learn to say no
Happy Advent. May it be a time of rest, reflection, a time of waiting, a time of preparing your heart for the coming of the Saviour.