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Christmas is coming! Take a deep breath… and relax

November 25, 2014

Brace yourselves – Christmas is almost upon us, or at least that is what the shops have been telling us since Halloween. Surrounded by all the Christmas lights and jingles, it’s easy to get caught up in all the hype. But if we focus on Christmas too early, we are in danger of missing the powerful season of Advent – the time of preparation, both for the birth of Jesus, and His return. Darkness becoming light, both now and not yet.

The Real Advent CalendarAn advent calendar is a classic way of counting down to Christmas – opening each door in eager anticipation to see what is behind it (usually chocolate nowadays!). The Real Advent Calendar is a great option – Fairtrade chocolate, a charity donation, and, in case you’re at risk of forgetting what it is all really about, a booklet of the Christmas story.

However if you feel like you’re too old for one of these this year, there are a few on-line options to help you engage in a more real way with the season of Advent, before getting caught up in the festivities of a joyful Christmas:

A Rocha’s on-line advent calendar – check-out their page each and every day of Advent for life-altering tips and ideas for a greener Christmas and beyond.

Stewardship’s #AdventWonder – In the midst of the consumerist hum Stewardship are inviting you to stop and reflect on the Christmas season in a wholly different way, with their free Advent Wonder email series. Join us as we unwrap the alternative gifts of the season, and explore our own capacity for generosity at Christmas and beyond. Each Monday and Friday throughout December 2014 we’ll send you a new ‘gift’ to ponder and share. Create some space. Join us in a journey of Wonder. 

Resistance & Renewals Advent Challenge  – R&R shares reflections on how faith relates to transformation and social justice. Download their daily reflections for this season and be challenged and inspired. Christmas is so easily overtaken by busyness, spending and anxiety. These daily reflections will help you to take some time out each day leading up to Christmas to reflect on the person at the heart of the whole celebration. They are grouped in pairs; the ones on the left in blue focus on the destructive values to resist, and the ones on the right in green are those values which bring renewal to us and the world around us. Each day involves 4 steps: a time of silence, a Bible reading, a few sentences to aid reflection and some ideas for prayer. We hope it helps you grab a little bit of R&R this Advent.

The Bible Reading Fellowship’s Advent sampler  – BRF is offering a free daily Bible reading comment and reflection to help you explore the season. The sampler offers 28 daily readings drawn from across the five different series of Bible reading notes that BRF publishes. Our hope is that this sampler will help people to read the Bible regularly.

 

As noted above the season of Advent is a time of preparation. This inevitably includes practical preparations for Christmas. So as you start to plan, don’t forget about the following:

Buy Nothing Day imageNovember 29 is Buy Nothing Day – take at least this one day to lock up your wallets and purses, cut up your credit cards and dump the love of your life – shopping.

Rather more extreme, what about doing away with buying presents altogether, and instead make something special, or spend some quality time with your loved ones, rather than rushing up and down the high street desperately trying (and failing!) to find that special something?

Amazon-Free-holding-banner-4Could you boycott Amazon? I have done so for 2 years now and it’s really not that hard! Join Amazon Anonymous’ Amazon Free Challenge.

And when you do have to buy, be a conscious consumer and make it a gift that keeps on giving:

  • buy an alternative gift – does the person you are buying for really need another pair of socks or body lotion?? Twinning someone’s toilet is always a conversation starter!
  • ensure that the company you buy from treats its workers well and protects our environment – look out for the Fairtrade, Soil Association, FairTax and Leaping Bunny logos, amongst others.
  • buy from a charity, so that not only do you get a beautiful gift to give away, you know that you are supporting organisations who are doing amazing work alleviating global poverty and supporting those who can’t support themselves, through no fault of their own.

You will find lots of ideas and links here.

What about matching your spending on presents or food with a donation to charity? If you choose one of the charities involved in this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge, then your matched donation will itself be matched – so your chosen charity gets double! Matching funds will be released at 10am, Thursday 4th December then again at 10am, Friday 5th December and again at 10am, Saturday 6th December. Funds are limited and will run out quickly each day so donate as soon after 10am as possible to be in with a chance of having your donation doubled!

I wish you an inspiring Advent, full of wonder and awe, and pray that being a conscious consumer will lead to even more joy this Christmas!

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