Consuming Thoughts

Today at Bible Study we were present with an onslaught of Christmas gift opportunities that benefit others through purchase.

  • A group of women have created bracelets from beads made in Thailand:  the proceeds go to a house that rescues girls from the sex trade industry.
  • A dear friend’s young daughter wants to “buy the farm”:  Her parents turned a picture drawn by the amazing girl into a Christmas card with proceeds going to raise enough money to buy a farm for a village through World Vision.
  • A representative from F.I.S.H. shared a promotion sponsored by the Coffee Cottage:  purchase their Christmas Blend, and $2 of every pound purchased goes to F.I.S.H.
  • Another friend’s daughter is raising money to go on an orchestra tour by selling locally made jams and syrups.
  • NFC is hosting a Make It Yourself Workshop on December 6th.  By signing up for a time slot and paying a minimal fee, the participants are equipped with supplies and personal instruction from very knowledgable and crafty people on how to do things such as make candy, create gift boxes, make memory books, knit and crochet simple projects, etc.  This idea is coupled with our churches participation in The Advent Conspiracy:  spend less on Christmas, give more.  A statistic was given that if Americans put money spent at Christmas towards solving the world’s water crisis, that it would be fixed 45 times over.

The facilitator, one of the most tender-hearted people I know, commented, “Now, I know economic times are hard, and merchants want you to go out and shop, so I do feel a little bit bad about that.”  My wheels started turning (mind you, their idealistic wheels:  if I had realistic wheels, I’d probably be doing rather than yammering about it).

Random thoughts:  what if our way of life is unsustainable (I know:  it’s a fairly obvious answer)?  Why should we spend more and perpetuate an unhealthy system?  When you have those crisis moments, it’s an opportunity to change, or to ignore or make do and limp along until the next crisis.  Like transitioning my sons to sleep through the night:  yes, it stunk.  Yes, we had to get up repeatedly.  But by not giving in, by being consistent, by being committed to doing things differently, it got easier . . . better . . . healthier . . . eventually.  I remember reading in books about establishing healthy patterns with sleep that the author often said, “Just when you’re about to give up, if you stick with it, the tide will turn.”  And each time, that happened.

We’ve been given the gift of a crisis:  will we make do, or will we change?  What is that change we’re called towards?  How do we combat the black pit of consumption?

One thought:  live simply, so others might simply live.  And I’m thinking that living in such a manner requires community . . . .

Another friend and I were Facebook messaging about the food crisis.  She said that the Food Banks are in desperate need for the upcoming holiday and was discerning her call to help.  She mentioned that her family gives, but it’s hard to talk about what to do with others, because we’re supposed to keep our giving to ourselves, not to flaunt it to benefit ourselves. But if we don’t talk in community, however will we be able to act effectively?  What sorts of places or forums can we share such ideas and leadings, to gather together, to equip, to be the hands and feet of Christ?

I heard that Oregon is one of the top five hungriest states.  Where I live!!  Not in rural America, not in the South, but here.  Oregon.  My home state.

Consumption;  too much, not enough.

Again, Isaiah 58 was read today, at Bible Study in a talk on prejudice.

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Tears overwhelmed my eyes (i.e. The Spirit was present!)  The speaker said we need to learn to share the Truth in Love.  I thought about how that means to share the Truth in Christ, because Christ is Love.  But what does that look like?  How do we share the Truth in Love about our economy?  Our life styles?  Our consumption?

Words that come to mind:  Baby steps.  Intentionality.  Community.  Vulnerability.  Listening.  Humility.  Sitting with suffering.  Abiding.

May we be your hands and feet:  to create and further Your Kingdom.  Day by day.

4 thoughts on “Consuming Thoughts

  1. Raye

    “. . . it’s hard to talk about what to do with others, because we’re supposed to keep our giving to ourselves, not to flaunt it to benefit ourselves. But if we don’t talk in community, however will we be able to act effectively? What sorts of places or forums can we share such ideas and leadings, to gather together, to equip, to be the hands and feet of Christ?”

    If I recall Friends’ history correctly, going way back, Friends had meetings for sufferings. It was how they coordinated their efforts to relieve the suffering of Friends and others who were under pressure from poverty, imprisonment, illness, or other difficulty. Friends were able to pool resources and avoid duplication of effort because they spoke to each other about how to meet the need – as a community. Friends were able to find out how these people were doing, and what their specific needs were from those who were able to visit with them.

    So, today, what keeps Friends from forming meetings for sufferings?

  2. Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C])

    Raye makes a good point. Where I live, we do have meetings for sufferings. We also have environmental committees to help us work through the transition to a more sustainable way of living. I live a pretty localized existence, so I have no idea what keeps Friends elsewhere from doing the same, but I’d be interested to learn.

    It seems to me there’s a clear difference between talking about a problem and what we can do to address it, which is what a meeting for sufferings, or an environmental committee-facilitated presentation, or for that matter a meeting for business, is supposed to do, and showing off our “holy” or “virtuous” behavior, which is what Christ condemned. Real problem-focused, problem-solving talk doesn’t sound like bragging.

  3. Dave Woolsey

    The good news is that there have been sufferings offerings (and called just that!) going on for years at least in some local meetings in Northwest YM. Don’t know if it is good or bad news that they are done so silently. I have rarely or never known who receives the help. I am aware of one meeting where the pastor has commented that for twenty five years the specific need has almost always been met without asking for a specific amount. That part is good news, but surely we can do a better job as has been suggested by this thread.

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