Simple Living Works by Gerald Iverson

This morning I am reblogging a post by Gerald Iverson. It first appeared on his blog as Living Fair Trade. Gerald describes himself as the chief activist of Simple Living Works  which came out of Alternatives for Simple Living. Simple Living Works has many of Alternatives resources available so don’t just read the post – follow the links! Each year they produce a great resource – Whose Birthday is It Anyway? 

Our daughter Elysha gave me a lovely African-style shirt when she served in the Peace Corps in Kenya. I wear it for two reasons. First, as a symbolic gesture to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world. Wouldn’t it be great if our church choirs wore clothes like this instead of sterile choir robes? (I was a Minister of Music for 25 years, so I know about sterile choir robes!)

Second, I wear it to promote Fair Trade. You may have heard of Fair Trade coffee and now Fair Trade chocolate. I l-o-v-e dark Fair Trade chocolate.

We practice Fair Trade for two basic reasons. First, to make sure that farmers and artisans in non-industrial countries get a fair price for their goods. And secondly, to EDUCATE US. Through Fair Trade we learn from the world community (Living More with LessLife Standard #2).

Rita and I have gotten involved with Sharing the Dream, a Fair Trade organization based in South Dakota.

We visited Guatemala for ten days a few years back to meet the Mayan artisans. It was a life-changing trip. Now we can tell their stories. Guatemala suffered through a 30-year civil war between the indigenous Mayans and the Ladinos, the descendants of the Spaniards. Many of the Mayan women lost their husbands, so they make beautiful crafts for North Americans, to support their family and send their children to school. (School’s not free in Guatemala.)

We organize several display/sales each fall. We have had considerable success because 1. It’s a good cause, 2. We have a relationship with the sponsoring churches (we’re usually members), 3. We’re assertive. We don’t wait for them to come to us. We work with the church to publicize the event in advance through posters, newsletter, email blasts, pulpit announcements – all which we provide. We make it easy for the church. On the day of the event, if we’re not set up in the narthex, one of us – the “hawker” – stands in the narthex and in friendly way urges people to go into the display area.

Fair Trade is educational. The crafts can be given to children and others. Each comes with a story. They can help us understand another culture.

Testimonial from Debb Lutz

Gerald, You and Rita came to Mifflinville, Pennsylvania, years ago now to speak to a group of my friends. I still strive to impress upon folks the importance of less stuff. I remain the coordinator for our church’s Alternative Gift Fair. This event has encouraged nearly $130K of monetary gifts to 30 different charities in the last nine years. That money could have bought a lot of “stuff” but folks gave it to help others. Thank you for YOUR work in keeping us on the right track. Peace, Debb

Read about our visit at Debb’s church at Travels year 2.5. (Scroll to post #214.)

OCTOBER, Fair Trade Month, aims to raise awareness of the reasons why fair trade is important, and to promote buying and using socially and commercially sustainable, fair trade products in place of commodities which may harm the environment, the economy, communities and disadvantaged individuals.

Fair Trade Resource Network  is an information hub designed to grow the fair trade movement. Together, we can create a market that values the people who make the food we eat and the goods we use. Advocacy Resources Offered by Several Organizations & Campaigns

Here’s help with a variety of similar events.

For encouragement see and read about Micah 6 Action Team I met in the St. Louis area. They organize an annual alternative Christmas church fair. (Scroll to post #109.)

Podcast Reminder

You can access all SLW! podcast audio and the show notes either atSimpleLiving.startlogic.com/SLW-PODCAST or at SimpleLivingWorks.org (then click window #3). Listen through your computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone (or equivalent). SUBSCRIBE through iTunesStitcher.com or your favorite podcast service.

Or access individual episodes:

#1: Getting Acquainted

#2: 5 Life Standards

#3: Saga of Simply Enough

#4: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle-1

#5: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle-2

#6: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?-1 (of 6)

Do your friends a favor. Share this blog and podcast.

Peace, Gerald ”Jerry” Iversen, Chief SLW! Activist

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Advent And Christmas Are Coming – Its Time to Prepare

Heimsuchung_Schwaben_um1440_BNM

The beginning of Advent is still two months away. It starts December 1st, but it is time to get ready. Some of the stores are way ahead of us with Christmas decorations and gifts already prominently on display. They know that the longer and the more intentionally we think about an event before it happens, the more it will fill our consciousness.

I want to invite you to prepare for the real Advent and Christmas story. Last year’s theme was Let Us Wait As Children Wait. The blog posts were some of the most profound I have read. This year’s theme is Coming Home: Uncovering Our Roots in the Advent Story.

Joan Chittister in The Liturgical Year says: The function of Advent is to remind us what we’re waiting for as we go through life too busy with things that do not matter to remember the things that do (61). She goes on to challenge us by saying: Advent asks the question, what is it for which you are spending your life?

The incredible popularity of my prayer Lord Help Me to Live Simply on Godspace and Facebook this week has made me aware of how pertinent this question is. We all desperately crave more meaningful, less cluttered lives. Yet we rarely take the time to slow down and give up the urgent for the important. In preparation for Christmas and Advent this year consider her challenge. What is it that you are spending your life for?

Advent means coming and the season beckons us towards three comings we need to ponder on. The first coming, Chittister writes about is the remembrance of Jesus coming in the flesh, an infant whose birth captivates our hearts yet makes few, if any demands on our souls. For many the story is nothing more than a children’s story, a soothing tale that is little more than an add on to the secular celebration of consumption and overindulgence.

The next coming to which Advent calls our attention is the coming of the presence of God recognized among us now in the Scripture, in the Eucharist, in the community itself. This coming makes Jesus present in our own lives, eternally enlivening, eternally with us.  (65)

The final coming to which Advent points us is the Second Coming of Christ, what my husband Tom calls Advent II homecoming. It is this coming that whets the desire of the adult soul. (65) We await with deep longing the return of Christ at the end of time when the eternal world of God for which we strive with every breath will come in all its fullness.

So think about how you could participate with us this Advent and Christmas season:

First save the date for our pre-Advent retreat Stop the Madness – Return to Our Senses in AdventThis will be held November 16th at the Mustard Seed House in Seattle, but we also hope to have an online download available for those who cannot attend. So set aside time in the next couple of months to prepare your heart for the coming of Christ.

Second, this is your invitation to participate in our Advent/Christmas series Coming Home: Uncovering Our Roots in the Advent Story. Consider writing a blog post that reflects on the question Which coming are you waiting for this Advent? Chittister reminds us that the comings – past, present and future- all live together in one long sigh of the soul (66) yet one aspect of Advent always grabs our attention more than others.

This series should provide plenty of scope for all of us, no matter where we are at in our journeys. I hope that you will participate and invite others to join the journey too. Posts should be 600 – 800 words. Please include a short bio with links you want included, and jpgs of photos with credits for the photos.

If you would like to contribute a post for this series leave a comment here or sign up to receive ongoing information in the Godspace Writing Community on Facebook or email me at christine@msaimagine.org for more details. If you know of others who might be interested please send them the link. I hope that this series will provide us with a rich array of viewpoints from around the world so that together we grow in our faith and rediscover some of the wonder and awe of the coming of Christ.

Third sign up to follow Godspace daily and encourage your friends to do so too. We will post daily meditations, weekly liturgies and podcasts, and other resources to help prepare you for the coming of Christ.

The Advent season kicks off the liturgical year and we want to make sure we begin it right – but that won’t happen unless we put effort and discipline into it. So we hope that you will join us this year.

Getting Ready for the Eve of Epiphany

Fernando Gallego [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Christmas season is almost over. Sunday is the Eve of Epiphany, the last day of the 12 days of Christmas. We will strip our Christmas tree of its ornaments, move it back outside to prepare for another year, and turn off the Christmas lights. This doesn’t mean that the light of God has gone out however, rather it means that it is time for the light of God to be spread out into the world. Each of us is a bearer of God’s light and it is time for us to get moving. We are encouraged during the season of Epiphany to come and see, come and follow, go and tell others.

Part of what I have been thinking about today is – “What does it take to get us moving?” “What motivates us to get out into the world and be God’s light of healing, reconciliation and love?” I have reflected on this in  a previous post from 2010 and my concerns have not changed.  The light of God has not gone out of the world, but it certainly has not gone out into the world as God would desire either. How do you think we can change this?

Through Advent we have watched and waited,

In Christmas we have found the Messiah,

And we have been changed.

Now we must follow God’s guiding star,

Light to the world, redemption for all people.

We can no longer be satisfied with the old life,

We must journey deeper into God.

May we open our ears to listen,

So that we can hear God’s heartbeat.

May we open our eyes to watch,

So that we can see God’s presence.

May we open our minds to believe,

So that we can embrace God’s ways.

May we open our hearts to trust,

So that we can share God’s salvation.

Amen

You may also like to check out these posts from previous years:

The Eve of Epiphany – Saying Goodbye to Christmas 

Eve of Epiphany – We have Come, We Have Seen Now We Must Follow

Epiphany is Coming – Evening Prayers for the Season

Liturgy for Epiphany

Light for the Journey Prayers for Christmas

Over the last few days there have been some beautiful prayers posted on the Light for the Journey Facebook page. I have also added the last of the Advent prayers which have not been posted yet. Enjoy

Shout for Joy God thank you for your radiant star - Bonnie Harr

The light of the Christmas star to you.
The warmth of home and hearth to you.
The cheer and goodwill of friends to you.
The hope of childlike heart to you.
The joy of a thousand angels to you.
The love of the Son and God’s peace to you.
— Irish Blessing

Transformation - Bonnie Harr Thank you for scripture fulfilled - John Birch My soul maginifies the Lord - John Birch

 

Rejoice Rejoice, Christ our Saviour is come.001 Christmas prayer.001

 

 

You call us to be messengers
announcing the news
that your kingdom is here;
not in some faraway place
or heavenly space, but here
where we live and breathe
in the presence of Christ our King.
Here, where the sick are healed
and broken lives made whole,
Here, where your children serve
and love is shared with all.
Here, where you rule in power
and sin cannot control.
Here, where your people meet
responding to your call.
You call us to be messengers
announcing the news
that your kingdom is here
just waiting to be found!

(www.faithandworship.com)

This Advent-time
we remember Mary and Joseph,
giving thanks for their faithfulness,
courage and obedience,
stepping out into the unknown
in the strength of your Spirit,
playing their part
in the fulfilment of your plan
to bring your prodigal people
home again.
We pray that their example
might be the pattern of our lives,
that when your gentle whisper
breaks through the clamour of this world
and into our small corner,
we might be ready to listen,
and having listened, to act.

(www.faithandworship.com)

This Advent-time
we remember Mary and Joseph,
giving thanks for their faithfulness,
courage and obedience,
stepping out into the unknown
in the strength of your Spirit,
playing their part
in the fulfilment of your plan
to bring your prodigal people
home again.
We pray that their example
might be the pattern of our lives,
that when your gentle whisper
breaks through the clamour of this world
and into our small corner,
we might be ready to listen,
and having listened, to act.

(www.faithandworship.com)

 

On the Second Day of Christmas….

12 Days of Christmas Xavier Romero-Frias via wikimedia

12 Days of Christmas Xavier Romero-Frias via wikimedia

Christmas day has come and gone but the 12 days of Christmas are still very much with us. This extended season is a great season for people of Christian faith to really focus in on the meaning of the season. I have talked about this in previous years and you might like to check out some of these posts:

Christmas is Over or Is it? 

The Wait is Over What Did I Get?

More Christmas Prayers

Today, however as the scriptures of the day from the Book of Common prayer celebrate the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, I am reminded of the incredible risk of following Jesus with our whole hearts.  And in a couple of days we will celebrate the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem, which we already reflected on following the massacre in Newtown.

Perhaps part of the reason we love to sit back with a sigh of relief after Christmas day is because we don’t really want to face the consequences of a committed faith. We want following Jesus to be all about love and peace and personal happiness. None of this persecution and martyrdom stuff. None of this “turn from your selfish ways and take up your cross” stuff. None of this “love others as you love yourself” stuff.

Part of what has been birthed in me this Christmas time is a new desire to let go of the confining trappings of adult life with its pressures to conform, to consume and to fit in, where there is no time for awe and wonder. Instead I want to try to grab hold of the childlike expression of faith that finds delight in every little thing around me. As I move through Christmas 2012, I want to slow down and take time to glory in God’s resurrection created world which came into being through the life of the One whose birth we celebrate at this season.

Let Us Wait As Children Wait – the Entire Series.

Aboriginal Christmas - unknown artist

Aboriginal Christmas – unknown artist

In case you missed some posts, here is the complete list of the contributions to the series Let Us Wait As Children Wait. Enjoy

Advent, Children, Justice, Wonder and Humility by Steve Wickham

Lessons From a Nomadic Childhood by Lynne Baab

Let Us Wait As Children Wait by Jon Stevens

Too Old And Decrepit To Bless – by Anne Townsend

Waiting on the Trail an Advent Reflection by Jill Aylard Young

Let Us Wait As Children Wait An Advent Reflection by Coe Hutchison

Everything Will Happen, Just Slow Down and Wait an Advent Reflection by Bonnie Harr

Always Winter and Never Christmas An Advent Reflection by Travis Mamone

Simple Faith – An Advent Reflection by Paula Mitchell

Shhhh…Here He Comes an Advent Reflection by Margaret Magi Trotman

Waiting When There is No Hope An Advent Reflection by Christine Sine

Wading Through Hot Chocolate and Cloudy Skies an Advent Reflection by Kim Balke

An Advent Prayer for those Grieving in Connecticut by Bonnie Harr

Why Being a Child is Admitting We Don’t Know it All An Advent Reflection by james Prescott.

Waiting with Ants an Advent Reflection by Jim Fisher

The Slaughter of the Innocents – Advent Reflections on the Massacre in CT

I Can Hardly Wait for Christmas But I’ll Try – An Advent Reflection by John Leech

This Will Be A Sign For You An Advent Reflection by David Perry

Celebrating Advent with A Birth and A Death by Edith Yoder.

Gifts of Light and Love a Christmas Poem by Heather Jephcott

Advent is Over – What Have You Learnt?

And the prayers that have been posted during the Advent season

A Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Advent – The Creative Breath by John Birch

A Celtic Liturgy for Week 2 of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Advent Liturgy for the Third Week of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Liturgy for the Fourth Week of Advent by John Birch

Prayers for Advent from Light For the Journey

Prayers for the Journey – Advent prayers for the week

Christmas Prayers for 2012

Christmas Prayers for 2012

I know it is not Christmas yet but so many of us are already anticipating the day and looking for resources to celebrate with that I thought I would share these prayers with you. If you use one of them for your Christmas celebrations I would love to know about it.

Christmas prayer.001Rejoice Rejoice, Christ our Saviour is come.001