Archives: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? #5
WAITING FOR THE LIGHT
A Calendar Through Advent and Christmas
When faced with hunger, poverty, economic crises, and consumer pressures, it is difficult to find the joy, peace and fulfillment promised by the birth of Christ. But John 1:5 reminds us, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it."
Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent and ending with Epiphany, this
calendar offers daily thoughts and suggestions as you seek to bring God's
light to the darkness of the world. Either individually or with your family
or group, set aside a specific time each day--first thing in the morning,
before or after dinner, etc.--to do the activities and reflections in this
calendar. Hang the calendar on your refrigerator, wall, or bulletin board
where it is clearly visible throughout the Christmas season.
29 Choose an organization you want to support this Christmas. (You may want to see p. 15.) Decorate an empty coffee can with the group's name and pictures. Use it to hold money you collect using this calendar.
30 Spend 15 minutes of silence envisioning nations flowing to the mountain of the house of God . . . beating their swords into plowshares . . . their spears into pruning hooks. Draw a picture of your vision.
1 Consider singing a song every night at dinner. Get song books from church or library.
2 Think of a person with whom you have disagreed recently. Envision the two of you smiling and hugging each other. Then write that person a letter.
3 Make a list of all the conflicts or disputes among nations, communities, races, individuals you can think of. Give 5¢ for each one on your list. Say a prayer for peace.
4 December offers us parties, open houses, concerts and holiday events. Do too many early events contribute to exhaustion by Christmas day? Give 25¢ for every event you attend during Advent.
5 Consider the words of Booker T. Washington: "I shall allow no man [person] to belittle my soul by making me hate him."
6 Today is St. Nicholas Day! Spend time talking to a child about St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children. Give 5¢ for every child in your extended family.
7 Change attitudes about gift-giving. Write a letter to family & friends sharing your feelings about Christmas giving. Suggest gifts you would like to receive (i.e., a donation to a soup kitchen; a gift of their time).
8 Children can have difficulty
9 Remember a difficult change you made in your life. What was your process? Did you do it suddenly or gradually? Was your decision made with public help or in secret? Perhaps you want to share this memory.
[understanding how they can "make this a better world." Fill a box with written suggestions: "Read a story to your brother;" "Collect aluminum cans to recycle;" etc.]
10 Make a list of the disposable products you use: razors, plastic bottles, diapers and the like. Next to each item write an alternative product you can use which is more ecologically sound.
11 Will you put up your tree this weekend? Don't decorate it completely--add an ornament each day so it is only finished on Christmas Eve. Give 10¢ for each day your tree is up before Christmas.
12 Many people are struggling during these difficult economic times. When bombarded by consumer pressures, people can feel guilty or depressed. Can Christmas be joyous without spending a lot of money?
13 Today is St. Lucia Day. In Sweden, the oldest daughter, wearing a crown of candles, serves her parents wheat cakes and coffee in bed. Serve someone a simple, candlelight breakfast today.
14 Many people in countries around the world don't have access to clean drinking water. Give 10¢ for every glass of water or can of soda pop you drink today.
15 Choose one or two Christmas cards from those you have received. Talk about or think about the person who sent the card. How does this person bring joy to your life?
16 Think of those who serve you and become their servant. Take a box of cookies to your local volunteer fire department; give some to the people who collect your trash.
17 This year is the 500th anniv. of Columbus' visit. In 1492 there were at least 43 million more Native Americans in the Western Hemisphere than today. Visit a Native American reservation or read a book on this.
18 Current paper recycling efforts save over 200 million trees each year. Give 10¢ for every Christmas card you sent or plan to send which was not printed on recycled paper.
19 Visit someone in a prison, hospital or nursing home. Visit your local AIDS clinic.
20 Don't think of time spent waiting at a red light or in a grocery store checkout line as wasted time. Spend those moments meditating on the joy of Christmas.
21 Find out where the poor in your area live. Visit the neighborhood. What stores and businesses are there? What is the housing like? How does this community compare with your own?
22 Are you traveling to see relatives this Christmas? Think of Joseph's and Mary's journey to Bethlehem. Give 10¢ every time you eat in a restaurant during your trip.
23 Remember a time when you were afraid. Have you ever been fearsome in a crowd or community of people unlike you (i.e., people of another race or class)? Why? Give 5¢ for every time you remember.
24 In a group of family or friends, sing your favorite Christmas carols. Read aloud the birth of Christ and name five things each for which you are grateful.
25 In the evening, turn off all the lights except those on your tree or light some candles. See how the light shines in the darkness for you and for your neighbors.
26 Read Acts 6:8-8:2. Today, St. Stephen's Day or Boxing Day, many people give boxes filled with gifts to the poor. Collect good used clothing, toys and books for those in need.
27 Remember a difficult time in your life or a difficult task you had to perform. Tell someone how you overcame this difficulty and who helped you, if anyone. Draw a picture of this.
28 Read Matthew 2:13-18. Due to Herod's wrath, the Holy Family became refugees. There are 12 million refugees in the world. Write down reasons why people become refugees (war, poverty, etc.). Give 5¢ for each.
29 30% of non-institutionalized senior citizens skip some meals almost daily. Give 5¢ for every can of food in your pantry.
30 Select a friend or a person in your family and tell them in person, by letter, in song or by a picture how much you care for him/her.
31 Think of three ways you can bring peace in the coming year. Give 25¢ for each New Year's resolution you make.
1 On a piece of paper write down three regrets or anxieties from 1991. Tear the paper into small pieces and throw them in the air like confetti. Pray, thanking God for new beginnings.
2 Reflect on this saying of Dorothy Day: "The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us."
3 Invite someone less fortunate than you into your home for an Epiphany feast on Wednesday or a day next weekend. Treat the person as an honored guest. Rather than talk, listen to her/him.
4 Draw and cut out several candles from paper. On each candle, write one way you can bring light to the world. (i.e., "Greet someone I normally don't speak to.") When you become a light in that way, display the candle.
5 On this night, long ago, the magi were very close to the place where the star was leading them. How might you have felt as one of the magi nearing the city of Bethlehem--excited, weary, joyous?
6 On Epiphany, the magi brought gifts to baby Jesus. Like the magi, journey to the organization you chose to support & offer your donation. If the organ-ization is far away, send a letter of encouragement with your gift.
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