Village Green Corner - Articles for you to use in your church magazine.
For new articles and articles added since March 2012 see new website:- http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/archives/category/parish-articles
November Village Green Corner 2004
Take the stuff out of Christmas
What does Christmas mean to you?
Have you started thinking about it yet? The presents, the cards, the food? As well as being bad for our bank balance and our waist-lines, all this consumption is also bad for our world. The amount we consume in this country in terms of food, energy, material things, is completely unsustainable - all manufactured goods require energy to make them and transport them, all those plastic toys will end their lives in landfill, and when they do decompose, will emit nasty chemicals. Is this right that Christmas should place such a burden on the earth?
What is Christmas really about?
I believe it's about the birth of the saviour of the world, God's love of us all, warmth, joy and peace. What do you think? Do your Christmas's reflect what you believe it to be about? Does all the stuff that is exchanged at Christmas time make us more joyful, peaceful and appreciative of God's goodness to us? If the answer is "no", here are some ideas to bring the sacred back into Christmas:
- Give a chicken, a bible or immunise a child in the developing world. The Alternative Gift Catalogue from World Vision will send you a card to say what you've bought which you then give as a gift. Gifts start at £5. Go to www.greatgifts.org, call 0845 600 6446
- Plant a tree! For as little as £10 you can plant a tree for someone for Christmas and give them a card saying so. Go to www.woodland-trust.org.uk or call 0800 026 9650.
- Buy Fairtrade, which means that you are helping the producers work themselves out of poverty and ensuring a fair price for what they produce. Pick up a Traidcraft catalogue at the back of St. John's or visit www.traidcraft.co.uk or www.tearcraft.org
- Buy second hand. Or at least ask for second hand. Though recycling is important it is always even better to buy recycled than to recycle.
The next four suggestions come from the book Parenting with Spirit by Jane Bartlett.
- When you write your Christmas cards, (which will be charity ones, of course!) write them as a family and say a prayer for each recipient.
- Cut back on the material gifts and instead pledge your services to a family member - write it down in your Christmas card to them. Children might offer to wash the car, clean a room or perform a piece of music. You might pledge a special outing or favourite meal.
- Give inner gifts. This is best performed when it gets dark in the twinkling light of your Christmas tree. Everyone sits in a circle with an unlit candle around a bowl of sand in which stands a lit candle. Take turns to offer each family member heart-felt wishes for the year ahead, and as you do so light your candle and place it in the sand bowl. You might want to wish someone good health and success at a favourite sport, or confidence and patience to learn a new skill or embark on a new project.
- Prepare a special Christmas grace, maybe with your children's help, and hold hands around the table while you say it.