have yourself a mary little christmas {part 5}

Do you remember the part in Catcher in the Rye when Holden goes to see the Rockettes Radio City Christmas show?

Old Jesus would've puked if he could see it.

Aspects of The Holidaze leave me feeling similarly at times.   The Incarnation--the most fantastic Story in which a baby Messiah is born to a teenage virgin and the Holy Spirit--somehow gets lost in a flurry of shopping, obligations and merry-making.

It will unless, of course, we purpose to keep Christ at the center of our celebrating.  We can choose to observe advent and the Spirit-working instead of The Christmas Season as prescribed by Santas and shopping malls.

And Mary said:
   “My soul glorifies the Lord
  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
   of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
  for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
   holy is his name.
 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
   from generation to generation.
 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
   he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
   but has lifted up the humble.
 He has filled the hungry with good things
   but has sent the rich away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
   remembering to be merciful
 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
   just as he promised our ancestors.” {Luke 1:46-55}

Mary, awaiting the birth of her son and King, reveals that Christmas isn't about stuff...or even family.  It's about worship, mercy and humility.  Jesus' Incarnation inverts worldly power structures:  we place our trust in a Savior born in a stable.  Emmanuel, God-with-us, takes fragile human form and condescends to have his diaper changed.

Perhaps our Christmas observances could stand a dose of humilty, too.  We'll need to create space for quiet reflection if we are to tear down our idols from their thrones.

When we fill our holiday tables and stockings this year, what if we lived out this legacy of filling the hungry with good things, too?  Advent Conspiracy is a movement that seeks to honor Christ by celebrating his birth another Way.  Their two minute video is worth the watch for sure:

Worship fully. Spend less. Give more. Love all.

The alternative gift catalogs highlighted below allow givers to purchase things like shares in a well and supply clean water to a whole village. These are a few bigger ones but many denominational missions organizations offer similar projects that are worth funding, too.

Goats provide nutrition and extra income that can grant access to education.  A bike can mean safe passage to vulnerable girls whose walks to school are not safe.  We can provide care and hope for girls who have been trafficked or fund a business that will enable a whole family to become self-sufficient.    If you have kids, picking presents out of these catalogs together can be a fun and tangible way to help re-orient Christmas toward worship and giving.  We have chickens, and my little ones love the idea of buying chickens and other animals that children across the world can chase, too.

Here's to celebrating a holiday fit for a King born in a stable.  Holy is his name.

This is the final installment of a series about the intersection of 
faith, justice, consumerism and poverty. 

How does your family observe advent and Christmas? How do you keep consumerism from running amok in your home? How do you incorporate service into your celebrations?

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