Monday, November 28, 2005

Reclaiming Christmas, Part I

Each year for nearly a decade now, the Jeff St. Peacemaker Ministry Team has led the church in the Reclaiming Christmas Project. Recognizing our wealth and bounty of stuff, we've taken to encouraging our friends and family to honor the Christ Child with gifts to those who are in need, instead of we who have so much.

In the years past, we have raised money to build much-needed wells, funding a pharmacy and starting a women's chicken-raising project in various Central America localities. This year, the money raised will go to provide medical supplies in Nicaragua and, for the first time ever, we've branched out to raise money for a small village in Morocco where our friend, Karen, works.

The following ideas are offered as "pondering points" for those who might be considering participation in this project. It may help to give you ideas on how to describe your participation in this project as you discuss it with your friends and relatives. Everyone will have an underlying rationale that is unique to them, so develop your own.

Here are some points that seemed important to us on the Peacemaker Ministry Team:

  1. It's Jesus' Birthday!

We're celebrating Jesus' birthday, after all. We should give in ways that honor the one who said, “What you do for the least of these, you have done unto me.”

  1. Cheap ain't Cheap for Nothin'

Many of the cheap, abundant “gifts” given at this time of the year come from third world countries using unjust labor practices. We do not wish to cooperate in giving unqualified support to an unjust system.

  1. Rich and Poor

In a world where the gap between the rich and the poor is ever-widening, gift-giving that increases the affluence of those already wealthy just seems wrong. The cries of those who suffer tears at our hearts. We cannot ignore them.

  1. Sustainability, Sustainability, Sustainability

The industrial processes that produce most of the products we buy are destructive to the air, land and water in ways that threaten to irreparably damage life as we know it. Where's the joy in that kind of gift?!

  1. 'Tis a Gift to be Simple

There is freedom and joy in simplicity. It is almost universally acknowledged that Christmas has become too commercialized. The Reclaiming Christmas Project is one way of reclaiming the joy of a simpler, more beautiful Christmas.

If you'd like more information on the Reclaiming Christmas Project, you can email Dan at:

El Regadio Boys

Boys at School in El Regadio
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Part of the money raised by Reclaiming Christmas will be going to provide desperately needed medical supplies to health centers in Nicaragua.

When I was in Nicaragua a couple of years ago, the health clinic in the small village where these two boys live was nearly depleted of supplies (teeth were pulled with no medicine!).

All children deserve a chance at good health. Let's do our part!

Reclaiming Christmas, Part II

Some Biblical, theological and ethical thoughts on why we do our Reclaiming Christmas Project:

From Ronald J. Sider: Cry Justice; Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger

1. God loves the poor. God:

  • Chooses to use the poor: James 2:5-6; 1 Cor.l:28-29

  • Blesses the poor: Luke 6:20-21

  • Punishes the rich who oppress or ignore the poor: Deut.27:19; Isaiah 3:14-15; 10:1-4; Ezekiel 16:49-50; Amos 4:1-2; Micah 3:1-4,9-11; 6:9-15; Luke 6:24-25; 16:19-31; 18:22-25; James 5: 1-5

  • Defends the poor: Psalms 109:30-31; 140:12

  • Identifies with the poor: Prov.14:31; 19:17; Matt.25:31-46; 2 Cor.8:9

2. God is at work liberating the poor and oppressed: Luke 1 :52-53; Ps.146:7-9

  • Exodus: God hears the cries of the oppressed and delivers them from slavery: Ex.3:7-10; Ex.20:2

  • Prophets: The prophets condemn injustice as a violation of the Covenant-Jeremiah 5:26-29; 7:5-7; 22:13-17; Ezekiel 45:9-10; Amos 6:4-7; 8:4-7; Isaiah 5:8-13; 10:1-3

  • Incarnation: Jesus defines his mission as good news for the poor and true liberation for the oppressed: Luke 4:18-19; 7: 18-23

3. God expects us to be co-participants in God's liberating work: Micah 6:8; Isaiah 1:17

  • Action on behalf of the poor is an expression of true faith and love: Matt.25:31-46; James 2:15-17; 1John 3:17-18

  • Worship is a farce without action for justice: Amos 5:21-24; Isaiah 1 :10-17; 58:6-8

  • Justice is a requirement of Covenant love:

    • The Year of Jubilee: Leviticus 25 :8-24

    • Sabbatical year, agricultural tithing and gleaning laws: Ex. 21:2; 23:11; Leviticus 19:9-10; 25:2-7; Deut.14:28-29; 15:1-15; 24:10-14; 24:17-22; Deut. 26:12-13; 27:19

    • Sharing in the early church: Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-37; 2 Cor.8:13-15; 9:6-15

4. Trust in riches and possessions is inconsistent with trust in God

  • Riches are an empty pursuit and spiritual danger, leading us to forsake the Lord and causing both anxiety and human conflict: Deut. 6:4-12; 32:15; Prov.11:28; 18:10-11; 23:4-5; Eccl.4:4-6; 5:10-12; Hosea 10:1-2; 13:4-6; Matt.13:22; 19:16-30; Luke 12:13-31; Eph.5:5; 1 Tim.6:6-10; James 4:1-4; 1 John 2:15-17

  • There are many things more valuable than riches: Ps.119:36-37; Prov.11:7; 15: 6-7; 16:16; 22:1; 1 Tim.6:17-19

  • We cannot serve both God and money: Mt.6:19-21,24; 19:16-30

  • Simple trust in God's goodness and providence produces genuine contentment that liberates us from anxiety: Matthew 6:25-33; Hebrews 13:5; Phil.4:11-1

  • God's people possess wealth for a purpose: to share with others: Deut.14:27-29; 15:4-11; 24:17-22; 26:12-13; Prov.22:9; Ezek.16:48-50; Is.58:6-10; Lk.3:9-11; 14:12-14; Acts 20:32-35; Rom.12:9-13; 2 Cor.8:13-15; 9:8-13; 1 John 3:16-18

Merry Christmas and God bless us, everyone.

Information provided by the Jeff St. Peacemakers Team

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ultimate Adam

Adam Frisbee
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

A Poem goin' out to the babies

We have had the blessing of two babies to join us at church the last couple of months: Duncan and Caroline.

Here's a little poem that I'd like to dedicate to them and their families:

On Poop (Mine and Not)

by Dan Trabue

It is amazing to me the

difference between what belongs to me

and mine and not.

As someone who works with children -

children who sometimes poop -

and as someone who is a daddy to children -

children who sometimes poop -

I can tell you with some authority that the

yuck-factor of the feel and smell of

warm brown poop needing to be cleaned

from underwear and over there

is directly related to the love you have for

the child.

I have cleaned and breathed the aroma of my

children's aforementioned unmentionables

with a certain amount of fun and laughter and

slightly grossed out joy and

it was, if not desired, at least okay.

I have also cleaned and gagged upon the

aroma of some other children's

bottom line and it was never


That tells me that the degree of the

awfulness of the smell

of the poop

is in inverse proportion to the degree of

love for the child,

and it seems to me that my effectiveness with

and impact upon

the children I work with

(as well as my own)

depends largely on how well I can

love them.

That having been said, let me issue

a disclaimer:

Vomit is never okay.