Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just Say No

That was Nancy Reagan's anti-drug slogan when I was in college, but I think we can recycling this for Christmas. Every time I watch the news, there's some sort of comment about the state of our Christmas shopping and its impact on our economy. I heard last week that consumer spending is responsible for 2/3 of our economy (I'm not sure what the reporter meant "economy" ... so it may be a questionable statistic). But if our economy is so reliant on consumer spending (as opposed to business or industrial spending), it could explain the obsession with how much we spend and the message of buy, buy, buy we incessantly hear.

The poster above comes from BuyNothingChristmas.org, a movement started by some Canadian Mennonites to urge us to focus on what is really important at Christmas - Jesus' birth. They have all sorts of ideas for alternative giving on their web site.

Performance artist Bill Talen's alter-ego, the Reverend Billy, leads a group called the Church of Stop Shopping (hmmm ... perhaps we could call Rev. Billy his 'altar-ego' ... ok stop groaning...). They just released a movie called What Would Jesus Buy? He preaches against the Shopocalypse. I love it.

Beloved Husband and I are the parents of a 'tweener and and a 'tweener wannabe (youngest is just 9, but wants to be cool like her older sister). We do our best to instill in them that Christmas is more than getting stuff and overall they understand (although they still want a Wii for Christmas). I remember the days when they were 3-4 and would see ads on TV and every one that came on provoked the same response, "I want that!" I'm glad we're past that phase.

But Beloved Husband and I are at a place in our lives where acquiring more stuff just isn't very attractive. We have everything we need and even many things we want (want is different than need but our consumerist society often blurs this line ... to sell you more stuff, of course). Now the focus of Christmas is giving to those who really do need something ... especially if they need the basics of life. Supporting the Millennium Development Goals is a huge part of alternative giving for us. One way is through the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund, but there are other organizations that help further these goals. Learn about the goals ... find groups that support them ... then donate. It isn't hard.

Giving to the MDGs truly is giving to those who lack the necessities of life. It reflects God's generosity in sending Jesus to meet our need to be reconciled back to God. We didn't deserve or earn this gift ... and God gave it anyway. Our poverty of spirit and brokenness was met in the gift of Jesus. Can't we reach out to others in their poverty to let them know God hasn't forgotten them too?

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