Christmas challenge 2009

Buy NOTHING this Chrismas

 Give no gifts this Christmas.
 Explain to your family that you are using your economic power to help the poorest by giving no gifts. Often, the gifts we give are useless or unwanted.
 Instead, make gifts or cards which are much more personal.
 Join the Advent conspiracy
 Give Christmas gifts directly to the poor by buying presents through Oxfam Unwrapped, Christian Blind Mission Gifts of Life or the Tear Fund.

GIVE to the needy

IN AUSTRALIA, some examples:
Christmas Bowl
The Mutunga Partnership
Christian Blind Mission

PRAY differently

More silence
More meditation
More reflective reading of Scripture
Fewer words
Different symbols (candles, ikons, etc.)

Author: Ted Witham

Husband and father, Grandfather.Franciscan, writer and Anglican priest.

10 thoughts on “Christmas challenge 2009”

  1. Here’s a poem I used this morning to prepare us all for a “useful” Advent.

    “Word” by Madeleine L’Engle

    I, who live by words, am wordless when
    I try my words in prayer. All language turns
    To silence. Prayer will take my words and then
    Reveal their emptiness. The stilled voice learns
    To hold its peace, to listen with the heart
    To silence that is joy, is adoration.
    The self is shattered, all words torn apart
    In this strange patterned time of contemplation
    That, in time, breaks time, breaks words, breaks me,
    And then, in silence, leaves me healed and mended.
    I leave, returned to language, for I see
    Through words, even when all words are ended.

    I, who live by words, am wordless when
    I turn me to the Word to pray. Amen.

    by Madeleine L’Engle
    quoted in Praying Our Days: A Guide and Companion
    by Bishop Frank T. Griswold

    1. Thanks for introducing this poem, Patrick. I am intrigued that it’s often the great wordsmiths (and l’Engle was one) who remind us of the limit of our words when we come before the Most High.

  2. Hello Ted,

    Thank you for all this. It is very inspiring – no not too idealistic. We will do some of it – we already do anyway. For extended family, we choose gifts from TEAR Australia’s Useful Gift Catalogue. TEAR was the first organisation to invent one of these, and it’s been such a good idea, many others like Oxfam and World Vision have used it too.

    My suggestion is that you include TEAR Australia in your list, as it is very much in sympathy with Franciscanism. It invites Australian Christians to live simply as well as giving to their community development work. It has become a movement of Christians living differently in a consumerist society.

    Here is the link to the Gift Catalogue, from which you can explore the whole site:

    Peace and blessings and thanks again,

    Jan Down

  3. TEAR should be on any list of worthwhile Christian organisations. Thanks for reminding me, Jan, and for your encouragement.

  4. Thank you Ted for reminding everyone. Have attempted over the years to cut out or give value focussed gifts at Christmas. One of my favourites is Nungalinya College Darwin where Aboriginal leadership is trained in short term programs desinged to benefit the bush communities where we have failed by hand-outs to give dignity to our indigenous brothers. Hand-outs develop reliance which is a prevailing sin of our Western Culture. It makes us feel good. Numgalinya College has no intermediary fund raising body dependant on vast amounts of paper and publicity. Aswell as giving direct to the College one can give through A.B.M. or C.M.S. who pledge stated amounts each year.

  5. Dear Ted
    For me, Advent is a season of waiting in darkness for the Light to shine.
    A time to reflect on endings and new beginnings.
    The Advent Challenge is a challenge, but not idealistic, and I feel Saint Francis would have asked the Most high, omnipotent, good Lord to bless Brother Challenge.
    Sadly, Advent has merged with Christmas and has become embedded in commercialism.
    I aspire to live the Spirit of Christmas through giving to the Christmas Bowl, and directly to the poor through the Christian Blind Mission.
    Friendship is a more precious gift than something that will end its days in someone else’s home — via an Op Shop.
    Each day I am nurtured through silence, meditation, Lectio Divina and symbols, and they have become part of who I am.
    I am encouraged by the Advent Challenge, and pray that all who wait in darkness may experience the Mystery of the Holy Incarnation.
    God bless, love and prayers. Robyn.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful reflection as we approach what for many is the most busiest time of the year. I was sitting at work this week and could not believe the stress that many people are putting themselves through and the money they are spending. When I asked why? I was simply told is it Christmas…and what is Chritmas? Well it is a few days off work to spend with the family…interesting. What about Jesus?? Blank looks everywhere.

    I have decided not to send Christmas cards this year and am donating what I would normally spend on cards and postage to someone who really needs it more than me. Someone who needs to know what Christmas is really all about.



    1. Thanks, Troy. Our secular Christmas is certainly a consumerist Christmas: Harvey Norman and Hallmark do well!

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