November Village Green Corner
Have an ALTER nativity
Ideas taken from Christian Aid's ALTER nativity campaign by Ruth Jarman
Christmas should be a time of great joy and real celebration for everyone. But many people struggle through it - getting into debt, feeling pressurised or stressed, guilty or lonely - and unable to participate fully in the meaning of Christmas. And the focus on shopping and consuming means a huge amount of energy use and waste, damaging the earth at the very time when we are celebrating God's relationship with the earth through the Incarnation.
Is how we celebrate determined by prevailing traditional customs or by the expectations of others around us; or is our Christmas really about what we want it to be about?
Take Christmas cards as an example. When your first card drops through the door on the 1st December do you eagerly open it with joy and thanksgiving, murmuring a prayer for the sender, or do you scream a stream of abuse at the thoughtless Miss-perfect for reminding you how hopelessly disorganised you are again this year and how there's no way you're going to get all the Christmas cards and presents done in time for Christmas and how you wish you were a hedgehog?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is sending Christmas cards and giving presents a chore?
- Do you give cards and presents just because people expect it?
- Do you make a choice about where all the money you spend is ultimately going?
- Do you consider the impact on God's world by what you buy?
- What are you saying when you send cards - by choice of card, by your message?
- Do you consider the cards and presents to be part of the celebration?
- Do you give yourself time to stop and wonder at what it is all about?
This Christmas why not challenge yourself to:
- rediscover the values of the Magnificat - 'he has lifted up the humble and filled the hungry with good things'
- remember the simplicity and meaning of the Incarnation, with the freedom, joy and peace that is offered in the coming of the Messiah
- resist the excesses of consumerism, which cause many people to incur unpayable debts and cause such harm to creation.
Here's some ideas:
- Arrange with family and friends to give something that you each own to each other and give the money you would have spent on presents to charity.
- Purchase presents from charity shops - buying second hand is as important as giving away your old things to the shop.
- Give hand-made presents - and think or pray about the person as you make it.
- If you do buy new buy minimally-earth-damaging things like books or fair-trade items and steer clear of plastic.
- Ask people what they want before you buy them something that they don't need.
- Give gifts of charity (e.g. you can send someone a card saying that you have given to World Vision so that they can immunise a child)
- Give theatre tickets or dinners out.
- Give Christmas kisses instead of cards
- Get up half an hour earlier during Advent to meditate on the Nativity or read an inspirational book.