What does it mean to “LOVE ALL?” When Jesus says:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
who do you see, in your minds eye, as your neighbor?
Is your neighbor a family in Uganda?
Is it a young boy at the local shelter?
Is it a mother waiting to give birth without access to proper medical facilities?
Is it your literal neighbor–the shut in woman next door or the young couple with kids?
Is your neighbor your theological other?
Is it someone close to you, or perhaps someone very very far away?
Who is your neighbor and how are you beginning to LOVE ALL in this season of awaiting the ultimate gift of love, the Christ child? Share your story of unexpected neighborly love and radical grace.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”
A beautiful visual poetry reflection from Jonny Baker,
Click on the image to watch or click the links below.
What will you unwrap in order to prepare for what is coming?
(for more resources like this, be sure to check out Proost.)
When you shop this year, try keeping in mind these things to make giving, more: more sustainable, more fair, more human and perhaps even Kingdom minded.
- Who made this item? What do they look like? What are the working conditions they are in like?
- How long will this item be around? What is the shelf life of this–is it a throw away, or will it last years, perhaps even generations?
- Who is a part of the economy of this gift? Is it connected to mega corporations or _____?
- How is my money impacting the community in which this item was made?
What things are impacting your giving decisions this year?
So grateful to hear from some of you, stories of fantastic creativity and JOY! Thanks to The Rev. Ken Howard, Rector at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church for letting us know what is happening at his congregation!
Our congregation, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, a relatively newly planted congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, is doing two AdventConspiracy projects:
(1) We set up an Angel/Dove Tree in our worship hall. Parishioners give a relational gift, then either (a) choose an Angel, select an Episcopal Relief and Development MDG gift of equivalent value from the list printed on the back, and send a check to ERD for that amount, or (b) choose a Dove and purchase a gift of equivalent value for a needy local family.
(2) We are encouraging parishioners to bring family and/or friends to our Christmas Potluck Social, and write a check to support an ERD project equivalent to the amount that they would have spent going out to dinner that Saturday night.
What are YOU doing this year? What’s your story?
From the No Impact Project:
Every year, growing numbers of us are unhappy with the shopping frenzy that surrounds the holidays but most of us don’t know how to get off the treadmill. What if we worked together to find another way to celebrate? This holiday season join us in finding more of what matters.
During the two-weeks of the historic UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (December 7th-18th), we’re bringing people together to talk about the impact of holiday spending on their lives and the environment. Join the No Impact Project and Center for a New American Dream for nationwide pre-DVD release community screenings of the documentary, No Impact Man, and a post-screening discussion about how to simplify our holidays this year.
Find a screening near you, click here.
To host a screening in your community or to learn more, contact the No Impact Project.
I can’t believe its taken me a week to get around to reading the new issue of Trinity News. Do you suscribe? It’s a fantastic resource, and a beautiful magazine. This latest edition is called “What is God’s Economy?” Fitting don’t you think for this week?
Read on for a great article from a friend and the Managing Editor of Trinity News, Nicole Seiferth.
God’s PhilanthropyNovember 20, 2009
By Nicole Seiferth
Five ways to give that make a difference.
Microloan, mega-empowerment: kiva.org
The world economy is often a very abstract idea and it can be hard to maintain focus on the billions of individual lives and livelihoods encompassed in that idea. “Kiva.org takes you right down the human level of economics,” explains Trinity Grants Program associate Sarah Grapentine. “It allows you as an individual to lend capital to the corner grocery stores, tailoring shops, and even beauty salons that are the heart of local economies. Kiva.org is about investment, not in multinational corporations, but in local entrepreneurs and the communities around them.”
An apple (and computers and paper) for the teacher: donorschoose.org
Teach for America calls the achievement gap between low-income students and middle-to-high-income students in the U.S. “the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession.” One way to improve the education that all children receive is to make sure their teachers and classrooms, often woefully underfunded and under-supplied, have all the educational tools they need. Donors Choose helps match individuals and communities that want to give with a classroom and its specific needs.
“Donors Choose demonstrates how the Internet can connect people who want to make a difference to possibilities for improving schools,” says the Rev. Matthew Heyd, director of Faith in Action for Trinity Wall Street. “Both sides, donors and recipients, are completely grassroots but the national impact can be really large. The site spurs exponential change.”
Net Gains: netsforlifeafrica.org
Every year more than one million people worldwide die from malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Sub-Saharan Africa loses an estimated $12 billion annually to the disease. Many cases of malaria can be prevented, though, if a community consistently uses insecticide-treated mosquito nets. NetsforLife, a malaria prevention program working in close partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, brings together corporate donors, the Anglican Church in Africa, and Episcopal churches to provide malaria nets and education to the most rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
“NetsforLife does not just hand out nets,” says the Rev. Steven Dzisi, the program’s director. “We mobilize the community, and engage the people themselves in designing the program, creating an ownership of the program at a community level.”
Cows that Wow: heifer.org
The basic idea is simple: through a donation, you give a cow (or chickens or a goat) to a family in the developing world. That cow’s milk helps to feed the family. The family, in turn, agrees to give the offspring of their cow to another family in need. And so the Heifer Project has been able to help build sustainable communities for more than 60 years. The organization’s initiatives not only provide communities and families with income and food-producing livestock, they also sponsor sustainable agriculture projects, microloans, and HIV/AIDS education programs.
“I think highly of Heifer Project International’s work — they are highly credible, and their projects almost always combine sustainable development with supporting entrepreneurs in local economies in the developing world,” says the Rev. Fletcher Harper, founder of GreenFaith, an interfaith coalition for the environment.
Right in front of you: your local parish
Each church reaches so many people, in so many ways. From your parish’s own outreach initiatives, to the diocesan and wider church work that your parish helps to support, there are few organizations that have such potential to impact the world. And it is, after all, what God calls us to do.
“Stewardship has to do with how we give our gifts to God, to each other, to the world,” says the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary. “Monetary giving can be such a joyful thing.”
Nicole Seiferth is managing editor of Trinity News.
Every time you head out grab a picture, an actual image of a person from a developing country, and shop with as much compassion for them as if they were joining you Christmas morning.
Take the money that you would spend on that gift and give it away.