Mid-October may be a little early to start thinking about Christmas, but it will be upon us before you know it (and I figured I’d get a jump on the Christmas marketing machine!). Every Christmas I am simultaneously dismayed by and a somewhat reluctant and hypocritical participant in the orgy of consumption that seems to characterize the season here in North America.
Over the past couple of years, our extended family has tried to combat this in small ways by taking advantage of the many great resources made available by such organizations as MCC and MEDA. Whether it is buying a mosquito net to combat malaria in Africa, providing a business start-up package, or supporting a family in need, doing this helps us to remember that Christmas is not about us getting one more present that we don’t need—that the Incarnation of God himself ought to be good news for the poor and that the way we celebrate Christmas ought to reflect this.
The MCC magazine A Common Place came to the church a while back and this morning I spent some time looking over the Christmas Giving Catalogue that came with it (you can download the catalogue here). I thought that I would issue a challenge of sorts to the readers of this blog. I don’t know how many of you are out there, or what your typical Christmas giving looks like, or how rich/poor you are, or a great many other details about whoever happens to read what I write. But I do know that there are some very affordable options in this catalogue, and that MCC is an organization that does excellent work that is worth supporting.
Our family has decided to give less to each other this year so that we can support a couple of these projects. My challenge is simple: take some of the money that you would have ordinarily used to buy Christmas presents and give it to MCC. The projects are divided into five general categories:
- MCC’s Global Family Program (providing a safe place for children to learn and grow)
- Meet Basic Needs (food, water, and shelter)
- Find Solutions to Poverty (good growing techniques, creation care, HIV/AIDS relief)
- Building Understanding (increasing awareness about the causes of global conflict, promoting peace, practical ways to build healthy communities)
- Give Where Needed Most (providing emergency relief in disaster situations)
Any one of these areas would be an excellent destination for some Christmas money, and gifts can be given for virtually any amount (some start as low as $10, but I think most of us can go higher than that!). What I thought would be pretty cool is if we could somehow see this as a kind of collaborative online venture. I would love it if as many people as possible would comment describing where they have chosen to give and how much so that we can see this thing grow and develop. You can comment on this post or on the page I’ve stuck on the top of my home page and on the sidebar so that this doesn’t get buried beneath other posts and forgotten.
I would obviously like to see a huge response, but even if there’s only a few of us it would at least show that we’re in this together and we’re playing some small part in combating the greed and overconsumption that so often characterize the Christmas season. Of course, this catalogue does not represent the only possible avenue for spending wisely this Christmas—I’d be happy to hear your comments about other options you are taking advantage of as well—but MCC is the organization that I’m most familiar with and it’s part of my denomination (good old tribalism!).
So have a look at the catalogue and consider how you and yours might get involved this Christmas. And please leave a comment so that we can track this thing as it (hopefully!) grows. Also, if you are a blogger and are so inclined, feel free to link to this page or spread the word in your own way. I’ll be posting several reminders myself as we move toward the Advent season.
Thanks, and Merry (early) Christmas!
We’re with you on this – we agree wholeheartedly, and our children are even excited about giving to others…go figure!
I think that MEDA might be the way we will go. Supporting those in need to gain economic status, and find a way to feed their families. Thanks for the challenge.
Thanks Dave and Shelley – nice to hear your plans for giving this Christmas season!