574: Rethinking Christmas charity … as God-given Justice and Liberation

ne of the shocking images on Sunday was the massive special supplement to the Detroit Free Press listing thousands of neighbors losing their homes at Christmas.
    Most Sundays, I teach classes for high-school students and I hauled out this enormous heap of newsprint for teen-agers on Sunday.
    Their eyes popped.
    “Is that foreclosures all over the country?” one young man asked.
    “No, it’s just Wayne County—Detroit and the handful of cities closest to it,” I said.
    Their eyes popped again as I separated the supplement into the 8 thick sections of listings—page after page after …
    “Look at the size of the tiny type in these listings,” I said.
    Each little listing represented a neighbor losing a home.

    We should care about this, especially at this time of year. Traditionally, saving the family home is one of the most enduring Christmas themes in stories, songs and movies. Remember how the Cratchit family couldn’t afford so much as a Christmas goose, Bob Cratchit was on the verge of losing his job—and Tiny Tim was about to die of his illness?
    Three miraculous ghosts of Christmas convinced Ebenezer Scrooge to save this family by delivering a prize goose, doubling Bob’s salary, giving him more time off work—and agreeing to underwrite a health care plan that Scrooge promised would guarantee Tiny Tim a happy childhood.
    Well, in real life—as real as that king-size heap of newsprint on doorsteps Sunday—there are thousands of families just in the handful of towns surrounding our Home Office who don’t have any magical ghosts poised to save their homes.

What can be done?

    1.) REMEMBER:
    First, we might remember that all the world’s great faiths understand God’s justice as guaranteeing human rights to shelter and survival. Our Jewish neighbors are about to remind us of one of the world’s greatest stories of liberation with the start of Hanukkah on Friday.
    (Care to read more? Click here to read Stephanie Fenton’s “Spiritual Season” column, which includes Hanukkah with cool Web links and information.)

    2.) LISTEN:
    God might be calling you—for such a time as this. That’s the theme of the ancient story of Esther, which we are celebrating this week in our Bible Here and Now section of ReadTheSpirit. (This is a free weekly series of lesson plans for church youth groups, focusing this week on Esther.)
    Or, if you prefer your spiritual listening on a more secular vein, Dr. Wayne Baker’s OurValues project is exploring—all this week—ways that technology is rapidly changing the rules in modern life. (Visit OurValues to read more about red balloons, Internet news and the latest research on our Attention Age.)
    Or, maybe you’d simply like to meet a wise and witty friend who is going through these turbulent changes along with millions of other Americans. If so, then meet the Spiritual Wanderer! Over the past couple of weeks, the Wanderer’s Web page suddenly “caught fire” with readers—thanks in part to links from a TIME Magazine Web page and the Poynter-Romanesko column. (Click here to meet this special friend and see what he’s saying at the moment.)

    3.) TAKE ACTION:
    Stay tuned! This week—and for the next few weeks—ReadTheSpirit will introduce you to some remarkable voices of hope. These are men and women of great talent and great faith who are charting a road forward for those of us who truly want to make a difference in “such a time as this.”
    First up—on Wednesday this week, you’ll meet Peter Greer, whose new book “The Poor Will Be Glad” offers a refreshing, practical approach to social justice in helping poor people to build their way out of poverty. (The book’s main endorsement is from Rob Bell so you know this is an important new voice.)
    Right now? Well, Click Here to visit the Balanced Leadership Web site of Dr. Rob Pasick, a nationally known consultant on balancing leadership in business with the needs of family, community and health. Rob’s holiday gift is a day-by-day series of “action items.” You might call it an Advent Calendar, if you’re Christian. But, Rob’s goal is helping all of us navigate this dark and wondrous month in a hopeful way.

    Email us with ideas, suggestions and notes about what you and your family are doing in this holiday season. Send notes to [email protected]


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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)


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