Saturday, November 07, 2009

happy holy days

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a room full of alumni from various church-related volunteer programs. These were people who spent several years of their lives serving alongside people in extreme poverty - from the Southside of Chicago to the Horn of Africa. They lived in intentional community with fellow volunteers and found joy in living simply and together. These were some seriously amazing people, intent on continuing to commit themselves to sustainability in both their economic and relational lives. Plus, they wore gorgeous scarves and huge earrings. I liked them.

During a panel discussion, the conversation turned to Christmas gift-giving. For most of these former volunteers, acquiring more material things was no longer high on their priority list, and talking to their families about that was inevitably awkward. The conversation went on, and on, and on -  we talked more about gift giving than anything else all weekend. 

I get the awkwardness, and I've had my share of uncomfortable family interactions, most of them infused with my own youthful condescension and militaristic progressivism. I like giving gifts - I like getting gifts. And I'm happy to be a part of what has become a really important tradition for parts of my family. But it's still a sticky time of year, when I inevitably begin to think about which weighs heavier - living a life of integrity or loving and respecting the people who formed me into this kind of person. Life, it turns out, is always a constant negotiation anyway.

So. Here are some ways to think about this particular season of negotiation, faithfulness, integrity, and relationship.

Check out the Advent Conspiracy website for more resources and suggestions. Happy Holy Days.

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