Whose Birthday? How-To
- What Has Happened to Christmas?
- Why a Simpler Christmas?
- Top 10 Uses of Whose Birthday?
- More Exciting, Helpful Ways to Use Whose Birthday?
- Going Beyond Whose Birthday?
- Weekly Family Time: How to Use These Reflections & Activities
- Let Us Have a Truly Christ-like Christ-mas
- Alternative Giving
Whatever Happened to Christmas?
A few hundred years ago, the Puritans banned the celebration of Christmas because they thought it was frivolous and that the joyousness was inappropriate to true Christian piety.
That's not where we are. We believe in the joy and laughter and meaning that Christmas can bring. We also believe that despite the pressure from our consumer culture, our celebrations of Christmas should make sense with the values of Christ who was born in simple surroundings.
Alternatives for Simple Living offers 'Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?' as an instrument for reclaiming the real meaning, joy, and value of Christmas. It is an invitation to rethink and re-feel the ways we celebrate.
May this Christmas bring you hope, peace, and joy.
Doyle Burbank-Williams, former Chair
Alternatives' Board of Directors
- A simpler Christmas leads to freedom. A consumer Christmas leads to stress and debt. Simplicity leads to generosity.
- It leaves room for more joy. It is such a joy to get the burden of stuff off our shoulders.
- It builds relationships. We are told thousands of times every day by commercial advertising that we will find meaning and happiness through stuff. Voluntary Simplicity says we will find happiness and meaning in life through relationships within ourselves, with others, with the Earth and with God.
- It leads to a whole life of simplicity. Celebrating is one part of a total life of integrity. This booklet is one step on the life-long journey of simple living. Only we can choose to simplify our own lives. This booklet can help.
- It promotes justice. By using only our fair share of Earths resources, we leave some for others around the globe and for future generations. Live Simply that Others May Simply Live.
- It Cares for Creation. A simple life is an Earth-friendly life.
Lets have a simpler Christmas this year! Editor
- Distribute to articles of your choice to individuals, families and groups (Use our free on-line promo kit.)
- Bible Study, such as a women's circle or men's breakfast
- Sunday School and Adult Forum.
- Pulpit Talk or sermons
- 'Simple Christmas' workshop for your congregation or community (Use our Alternative Event Organizers' Kits found in Simple Living 101)
For Individuals and Families
- Weekly Family Meeting & Fun Time
- Personal devotions
- Mealtime discussion
- Extended family gatherings
- Christmas planning time or event
Hold a family meeting between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1 to talk about Christmas expectations. What does each of us really want? Who is going to do what? What is really most meaningful? Are we willing to spend less on ourselves and give more to the needy? Write down and post decisions and changes to consider.
NOTE: If you need a DAILY Advent/Christmas guide, choose from 20 at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Advent/Christmas Calendars.
Some are lectionary-based, some are thematic. Copy your choice on recycled paper as a bulletin insert, in your own Advent-Christmas booklet or as a series in your weekly service bulletin. Pay no royalty per copy of the complete calendar under the Creative Commons attribution, not-for-profit license.
- Give or mail copies of articles of your choice to friends in place of Christmas cards. Insert a personal note or your family Christmas letter (on recycled paper).
- Send photocopied articles to friends, relatives and members of your congregation.
- Download the text for your church newsletter at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Whose Birthday? Read past editions there too.
- Check out the 20+ ideas of our Simpler Living Community Network. Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Volunteers >> Activities to Try, select an activity. Try it!
- Learn how to influence others toward simpler living. Read Guidelines for Change. Visit Volunteers >> Activities to Try >> Simple Living 101: How to Influence Others.
- Be a proactive volunteer. Read Simple Living 101: Toolbook for Activists Shy or Bold. Listen to Living Simply and Loving It! CD.
- Plan a public event, such as Unplug the Christmas Machine workshop. Read Alternative Event Organizers' Kits.
Wed love to share your results and ideas with others!
Want more details? See our complete Users Guide on our web site at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Volunteers
We welcome feedback on our free-of-charge policy.
The resources provided here offer individuals, families and other small groups a way to remember the reason we celebrate this holy season. The reflections begin the first week of Advent and follow through the Feast of Epiphany.
+Before Advent begins, make an Advent wreath. Find a book with instructions or follow these simple directions. Take a large, flat, shallow bowl (at least 9 inches in diameter) and fill it with sand or coarse salt. Place four purple candles securely around the edge of the bowl. Place a large white candle in the center. Make a circle of evergreens and place them around the bowl.
+You will also need a manger scene, a Bible and matches. Light one purple candle the week of Advent I; two the week of Advent II, etc. Light all five beginning on Christmas Eve.
+Set aside time each week to worship, perhaps after a meal on Sundays. Invite those who may be alone to join in.
+Depending on the ages of those in your group, adults may want to read the reflections beforehand. Incorporate the activities.
+Read and discuss one Reflection at each meeting. Sing along with the well known tunes of the Carols with Justice CD or from SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives, scroll down to Carols.
+Gather around the Advent wreath. Take turns reading, lighting the candles, praying, singing and sharing feelings and ideas.
by Linda Drey-Nightingale
- I have always found it odd that Christmas involves consumerism. Christ was not in the habit of giving physical gifts, but spiritual gifts. We can still enjoy the spirit of giving without buying into consumerism.
- Here are some ideas to enrich your Christmas and not necessarily enrich the pocketbooks of businesses and deplete the environment.
- The possibilities are endless. Just let your mind be creative. While you are out during this holiday season, remember to combine trips, take along a bag for purchases or do not accept a bag for anything you can carry, rent or borrow rather than buy supplies for parties, and enjoy moments with family and friends.
- Give a gift certificate for an outing together (January and February are the perfect times to still be festive.)
- If you have a talent you enjoy, share it with a gift certificate, e.g., pie baking, babysitting, gardening.
- Make a colorful basket of organic fruit, jams, and pasta sauces. This not only can be enjoyed by all but also introduces new people to buying organics.
- Think of what the person enjoys and give a gift certificate for that, e.g., concerts, yarn store, sporting goods, locally-owned restaurants, especially weekly music lessons for a child for a year.
- We maintain houses full of objects. Some of those objects may make perfect gifts for others, especially when passing on family treasures. Then do not replace them!
- By buying someone a membership in a nonprofit they get a double benefit. The money went to someplace they believe in, and they are not writing a thank you note for some object that they did not need. (from Ladera Community Church newsletter, Portola Valley, California, to accompany an Alternative Giving Fair)
If you enjoyed this article, youll also enjoy. . .
- Affluenza book and DVDs
- Living Simply
- Living More with Less - book, study guide, poster, post card, book mark
When we celebrate a birthday, we are careful to give what the person really wants or needs. Is there any doubt what Jesus wants from us? He insists that in order to give to him, we must find him in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned.
By helping to provide a goat for a farmer in Honduras, a decent home for a family in rural Mississippi, or food for those who are victims of war, you can give Jesus a birthday gift he really wants.
Contact one or more of these organizations to get more information on how you can give money, time and skills to those in need. (Information is accurate to the best of our knowledge. Please contact us with additions and corrections.)
Ecumenical List(additional Catholic listings below)
Alternative Gifts International
Helps organize 'alternative giving' events
Education, advocacy & fundraising to alleviate poverty & restore the environment
1103 Topeka, PO Box 3810, Wichita, KA 67201
800-842-2243 // www.AltGifts.org
American Baptist Churches World Relief Office
Seeks to combat hunger and poverty
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
800-ABC-3USA x2156 // www.ABC-oghs.org
American Friends Service Committee
Seeks to root out the causes of violence that lie in poverty and imbalance of wealth
1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102
888-588-AFSC // www.AFSC.org
Works to free prisoners of conscience and end torture and executions around the world
322 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10001
212-807-8400 // www.Amnesy.org
Bread for the World
Promotes education and legislation on issues of international and domestic hunger and justice
50 F St. NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20001
800-822-7323 (800-82-BREAD) // www.Bread.org
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Basic Mission Finance
Provides health, healing, education and hope to marginalized people
PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206
317-635-3113 // www.Disciples.org
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
A relief, development and educational ministry
2850 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560
800-552-7972 // www.crwrc.org
The Carter Center
Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope
One Copenhill, 453 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30307
404-420-5100 or 800-550-3560 // www.CarterCenter.org
Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund
Provides necessities and rebuilds resources for victims of disaster
1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 8
00/323-8039 // www.Brethren.org
Church World Service
Works in partnership with the needy while providing immediate necessities
PO Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515
800-297-1516 // www.ChurchWorldService.org
ECHO (Education Concerns for Hunger Organization)
Provides agricultural information and seeds to those working with farmers in the Third World
17430 Durrance Rd., North Fort Myers, FL 33917
239-543-324 // www.echonet.org
Episcopal Relief and Devlopment
Ministers to those who are hurt, forgotten, disposessed, sick or in need of training and education
815 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017
800/334-7626 x 5129 // www.ER-D.org
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America World Hunger Appeal
Works toward development, relief and justice
8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631
800-NET-ELCA // www.ELCA.org/hunger
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR)
Works to achieve a just and peaceful world community
Box 271, 521 N. Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960
845-358-4601 // www.forusa.org
Fuller Center for Housing - ADD (here only)
Provide adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide.
701 S. MLKing Blvd., PO Box 523, Americus, GA 31709
229-924-2900 // www.FullerCenter.org
A Greater Gift (SERRV International, Inc.)
Promotes the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world
500 Main St. PO Box 365, New Windsor, MD 21776
800-422-5915 // www.AGreaterGift.org
Habitat for Humanity
Works in partnership with poor people around the world to build simple, decent houses
121 Habitat St., Americus, GA 31709
800-HABITAT (442-4828) // www.Habitat.org
Heifer Project International
Provides livestock and training to needy families in 107 countries
1 World Ave., Little Rock, AR 72203
800-422-0474 // www.HeiferProject.org
Teaches peace, kindness, sharing and simplicity; sells pecan and peanut products grown by the community
Americus, GA 31709
229-924-0391 // www.KoinoniaPartners.org
Mennonite Central Committee
Provides relief, services and development in 50 countries
PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501-0500
888-563-4676 (888-622-6337 in Canada) // www.MCC.org
Mercy Corps International
Promotes self-reliance, productivity, human dignity among the world's poor
3015 SW First Ave., Portland, OR 97201
800-292-3355 (or 888-256-1900) // www.MercyCorps.org
Ministry of Money
Helps indivduals explore, understand and address issues of money and faith
11315 Neelsville Church Rd., Germantown, MD 20876
301-428-9560 // www.MinistryOfMoney.org
The Campaign to Make Poverty History
Promotes self-help development and disaster relief projects worldwide
226 Cause Way St. 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02114
800-77-OXFAM // www.OxfamAmerica.org
Pax Christi USA - REMOVE (here only)
Works for peace for all humankind
532 W 8th St., Erie, PA 16503
(814) 453-4955 // www.PaxChristiUSA.org
Presbyterian Hunger Program
Responds to hunger and poverty through education, direct food relief, development assistance, lifestyle integrity and influencing public policy
100 Witherspoon St., Louisville, KY 40202
888-728-7228 x5832 // www.PCUSA.org/hunger
Reformed Church World Service
Sojourners / Call to Renewal
A faith-based movement to overcome povertry
3333 14th St. NW Ste. 200, Washington, DC 20010
202-328-8745 // www.Sojo.org
Ten Thousand Villages
Provides fair income for Third World artisans through a nonprofit marketing program
704 Main St. PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501-0500
877-883-8341 // www.TenThousandVillages.com
www.TenThousandVillages.ca (in Canada)
United Church of Christ
Justice and Witness Ministries Office for Poverty and Hunger Seeks to end childhood hunger and provides lifestyle education 700 Prospect Ave-9th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44115 216-736-3704 // www.UCC.org/justice
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
Responds to Christ's command to feed the hungry, care for the sick and welcome the stranger in our midst
General Board of Global Ministries, PO Box 9068 , New York, NY 10115
800-554-8583 // UMCOR.org
Additional CATHOLIC Agencies
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Provides funding for grassroots organizations working to change the cycle of poverty
3211 Fourth St. NE, Washington, DC 20017
202-541-3200 // www.usccb.org/cchd
Catholic Charities USA
Provides information and action alerts on issues of poverty and human services
1731 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314
703-549-1390 // www.CatholicCharitiesUSA.org
Catholic Near East Welfare Assoc. (CNEWA)
Offers opportunities for individuals and parishes to sponsor children in Africa, India and the Middle East
1011 First Ave. Rm 1552, New York, NY 10022
212-826-1480 // www.CNEWA.org
Catholic Relief Services
Assists the poor and disadvantaged outside of this country
209 W Fayette St., Baltimore, MD 21201
888-277-7575 // www.CatholicRelief.org
Catholic Social Services
Provides volunteer opportunities in food distribution, foster care, adoption and emergency assistance
(Contact your parish or diocese for the agency nearest you.)
Center of Concern
Provides social analysis, theological reflection, policy advocacy and public education on issues of peace & justice
1225 Otis St., Washington, DC 20017
202-635-2757 // www.COC.org
Holy Childhood Association (HCA)
Involves North American children in sponsoring seasonal appeals for children around the globe during Halloween, Advent and Lent
800-431-2222 // www.HCAkids.org
Funds programs that serve economically deprived women and children in need of shelter, education, legal advice and psychological and spiritual development
402 Main St. Suite 210, Metuchen, NJ 08840
732-452-9611 // MarysPence.org
Migration and Refugee Services (MRS)
United States Catholic Conference
Offers opportunities for parishes and individuals to assist newcomers
3211 Fourth St. N, Washington, DC 20017-1194
202-541-3170 // www.usccb.org/mrs
National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW)
Co-sponsors with Catholic Relief Services programs which allow parishes and individuals to sponsor poor children around the world and support clean water projects
200 N Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA 22203
800-506-9407 // www.NCCW.org
National Catholic social justice lobby which provides advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged
25 E St. NW, Ste. 200, Washington, DC 20001
202-347-9797 // networklobby.org
Provides support for the victims of disaster as well as other projects (Call your parish or diocese for more information.) www.usccb.org/ppc
Pax Christi USA
Works for peace for all humankind
532 West 8th St., Erie, PA 16503
(814) 453-4955 // www.PaxChristiUSA.org
St. Vincent dePaul Society provides short-term asisstance to people in need. (Call your parish or diocese for programs in your area.)
Contact your (Arch) Diocese Social Justice Office for local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other helping agencies.
Page updated 29 Oct. 2016
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