re-imagining christmas

Skipping Christmas was more of an attention-grabber than a true summary of what we talked about on Midday Connection yesterday. (I think you should be able to listen to the show in the archives now. If not, then soon!)

I’m not sure Re-Imagining Christmas really does the trick either.

And Christmas with Purpose or Remembering the Reason for the Season are kind of cliche.

Entering the Real Christmas Story? Giving Jesus What He Really Wants for Christmas? The Spirit of Immanuel?

This makes my brain hurt.

Instead of coming up with a brilliant title, I’ll just kind of sum up what I said/tried to say yesterday. God sent his son, Jesus, into this world as a humble baby born to poor parents. Grungy, despised shepherds were the first to meet the little guy, and the cry of Jesus’ heart and ministry was to love and care for the poor, to break chains of oppression, to share the hope of God’s love and redemption with those who so desperately needed it.

We mean well for the most part, but we’ve let Christmas get out of hand. It symbolizes greed and excess and hustle and bustle more than it does a celebration of Jesus coming to earth, being Immanuel to us, to the world. We’ve made the day after Thanksgiving one big worship event, and Jesus ain’t the one we’re worshiping.

I’m not here to spread tidings of Christmas guilt (really). We can still enjoy beautiful sights and smells and each other’s company and the joy of giving and receiving gifts and fun-filled, laughter-inducing traditions, but I’m just asking us to consider something.

Have we asked Jesus what Christmas should look like for us and our family this year?

Have we asked him to show us when/where/how he wants us to engage/love/help the least of these?

Are we willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, doing things differently would better reflect Jesus and his gospel?

Enough for now. (Maybe I’ll just write an e-book about it.) {grin}

(Christmas Day 2011 in Cambodia. Be still my heart.)

I promised you some Christmas-gift-giving ideas that would bless both the person you bought it AND someone in need, so here they are:

1. Banners by Bethany. Bethany gives 50% of her proceeds to global missions (primarily Asia’s Hope in Cambodia). So you give someone a gorgeous, personalized banner AND you’re helping kiddos around the globe.

2. Fancy Freedom Designs. The proceeds from Krysten’s beautiful, unique jewelry help fight human trafficking here in the U.S. and around the world.

3. Noonday Collection. Helping women artisans around the world carve a path out of poverty. Lovely stuff.

4. Three Story Coffee. Delicious, fair trade coffee. Telling stories of the coffee farmers and making a difference in their lives.

5. Amazima Ministries. Bright, happy, paper-bead necklaces made by women in Uganda. Love Katie and her work.

6. Women at Risk (WAR) International. Empowering women in danger and in need around the globe.

7. Woven Joy. Bracelets/necklaces/bookmarks made by women in the Philippines.

8. Joliemade. Jolie’s hand-lettered products are fabulous, and she gives a chunk of her proceeds to HPC, my favorite ministry.

9. Mercy House Kenya. Beautiful products made by pregnant women/new mamas in Kenya.

10. Haitian Creations. Lovely things made by the women of Heartline, another amazing maternity ministry.

and last (well, not last, because there are a TON more I didn’t have time to list–there’s actually a pretty lengthy list on my fb wall), but not least:

11. The Dancing Elephant. The home-based business my three girlies started to raise $ for Cambodia (and Thailand and Kenya).

*Come back FRIDAY for a little BLOG SALE of some of their handmade items.* (100% of proceeds go to global missions.)

And these are some Online Gift Catalogs from organizations I love. You can buy these gifts “just because” or give a gift in someone’s honor. These aren’t thing you buy for yourselves, but gifts you buy for people in need (like a goat or a mosquito net or some chickens, etc).

International Justice Mission.

Compassion International.

World Vision.

Samaritan’s Purse.

Bottom line? We can do this, friends. We can make Christmas super-honoring to Jesus AND a real joy to us, our loved ones, and people in need around the world. You with me??

And I’d love to know what organizations you love! Feel free to share links in the comments!

p.s. It’s not too late to claim your free e-book from yesterday’s post.

10 thoughts on “re-imagining christmas

  1. Pingback: A Fair Trade Holiday Gift Guide

  2. Leslie

    I just got back from a trip to Swaziland where we visited a CarePoint for AIDS orphans. Many of the older girls, and the women volunteers who cook the food every day, sew hand-crafted items which they sell to make money for food and school uniforms and supplies. I was impressed with the quality of their work. Check out Timbali Crafts:

  3. Svetlana Babchanik

    Hi, can you please give me more details on the 5-hands. I caught a little bit of the program while driving to school, but couldn’t remember it all.
    Thank You! God’s Blessing to you and your family!

  4. Rachelle

    Some of my favorite buisnesses that give back. Thank you for sharing this the last couple of days. I think as Christians we have been slow to begin re-visioning some traditions. So glad you did this early in the season before I took out my wallet! It really is time to realize that our brothers and sisters, especially those abroad, need our love and support more than ever!

  5. Rosanna

    Marla, I have not had a chance to listen to the Midday program yet, but it’s on my list for today! I have struggled deeply with Christmas for years – the frenzy, the chaos, the expectations, the consumerism, the shallowness of it all. I’d like to share something I’ve done the last two years that has helped bring meaning to the season for me (and I say me because the rest of my family loves the traditional way of doing Christmas, so I’ve done this for me more than anything and I hope that doesn’t sound too selfish).

    For two years now (and hopefully this will be year #3) I order these little promise cards from this website:, maybe 20-30 of them and every day for 2-4 weeks leading up to Christmas I deliver them anonymously, along with a small gift that I try to correspond with the card to the door of someone going through a particularly rough patch. I do it for the same person for the entire season, because I want to remind them that God loves them lavishly and faithfully and continually. The two people I’ve done it for have both been single mothers and I know the children and the moms both just loved it (found out through the grapevine). This year I’m still deciding who I will do it for but possibly for my cousin who lost her husband in a drowning accident this summer. She has 3 very young children (the last one born after his death) and I’m sure this year will be quite difficult.

    Needless to say, I have begun to find deep meaning in the season once again. I only share this to say “anyone can do this”. I have found that reaching outside of myself and our little family has helped restore some of the beauty and wonder of the season for me. God bless you and yours this Holy season!

  6. Jen Hanson

    WOO-HOO!! I love this so much!

    One of my favorite family Christmas traditions is shared with my Dad’s side of the family. All my growing up years we exchanged gifts with the cousins/aunts/uncles/grandparents until one year my aunt (exhausted from yet another season of running around town finding presents for everyone) complained about the stress of Christmas. I commented that if it was causing everyone stress to buy a bunch of stuff no one really needed WHY WERE WE DOING IT??? I suggested that we instead take the money we would have spent on gifts for our extended family Christmas and re-stock the crisis pregnancy center that my cousin worked at. We had such a great time doing this as a family and since then, the “family Christmas project” has grown to buying farm animals, vaccines, and wells for people living in extreme poverty. Another cousin on this side of the family works at World Concern and every year he and my dad brainstorm to choose a village in their program that we can help. It’s always fun to see what the project will be each year. I LOVE this tradition so much!!

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