IVP - Strangely Dim - Buy Three French Hens (if You're Living in France . . .)

December 22, 2010

Buy Three French Hens (if You're Living in France . . .)

Well. I'm not gonna lie to you: it's pretty close to Christmas, so if you haven't finished (or started) your shopping, you might want to get on that. (I'm not criticizing; I'm "exhorting." And those of you who are being completely countercultural and not buying any gifts this year can feel free to "exhort" me via comments to this post!)

I fully realize that some of you who love a challenge might just need--or thrive on--that last-minute pressure. Others of you may be experiencing unexpected stress that has taken up time you might have spent shopping. Still others may have been given a lottery ticket for your birthday in the past week and won a million dollars and are now waiting for the check so that you can buy your friends and family not just any old set of steak knives, but top-of-the-line ones. (That's sweet.) Or maybe you're planning to make "stop procrastinating" your New Year's resolution. Whatever the case, we hope that our guide to more justice-oriented, somewhat countercultural gift ideas and Advent practices has made these twelve days before Christmas richer for you, and has focused your thoughts on Christ and the nature of his kingdom.

My gift suggestion for this, the third day before Christmas, will be particularly helpful for those of you feeling pressed for time, because you don't have to go very far (in fact, we hope you can walk instead of drive to buy these gifts). Why not support a local business--the businesses probably hardest hit by our recent economic decline--by buying products or gift certificates from independently owned shops and restaurants in your town?

I did this for some of the gifts I bought this year, and it was definitely a win-win-win: I found some really fun, unique presents; I got to support the community I live in; and I got to wander through some great stores and interact with great employees. Buying local can be an especially great option if you're not sure what you're looking for; employees at smaller, independently owned stores tend to know really well what's in their store, and they're usually very personally invested in it (more than most big-box store employees, which is not a knock against those workers; it's more a comment on chain stores themselves). It's like going to a restaurant where the waiters and waitresses have tried everything on the menu and can give you very informed and enthusiastic recommendations based on what you're in the mood for. Shopping at local stores and products also gives you a chance to get to know more people in your community, whether it's store owners or neighbors of yours who might be shopping there.

Even beyond all those great benefits, though, shopping locally reminds us of the nature of Christ. At Christmas, we celebrate the Savior who is Immanuel, God with us; the Savior who left his throne and came near to us--as near as a baby to his mother when he's in her womb; the Savior who, as The Message version says in John 1, "became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood." That is the God we celebrate and worship--who gave up his very life so that we could come near, and whose Spirit dwells in us still when we surrender ourselves to him in faith. Christmas reminds us of his deep love for us that sent Jesus from heaven to earth, to the middle of a bustling, Middle Eastern town where he was born, and to a small village where he grew, learned a trade from his earthly father and knew his neighbors.

In this small gesture of shopping locally, then, we have one more opportunity to imitate him in our daily lives. And, as we buy gifts that support the community, we'll be reminded even more to praise him for his great gift to us: the gift of his Son, born in a town out of love for us, to save us from our sins.

Posted by Lisa Rieck at December 22, 2010 6:00 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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