by Tyler Amy
For years, my mom has talked about owning her own Singer sewing machine. She recalls some of her earliest memories of sitting on her mother's lap as a youngster, watching the treadle bob up and down, wheels spinning, needle stitching. A treadle sewing machine, if you've never experienced one, is foot powered. A simple pedal, or treadle, when pumped by foot in rhythm, turns a belt that turns a wheel that allows the needle to stitch. (I apologize for my basic description for all you longtime treadle users, but you get the idea.) Probably the most well-known of these sewing machines are those produced by Singer Manufacturing Company, or a variation of the Singer name.
Dad recently came across a gorgeous, old Singer sewing machine. It was left in an estate sale of a well-known woman in town. She lived to see 88 full years and at some point during her years, her mother passed down this Singer to her. Dad inquired about and inspected this machine. All sewing parts seemed to be in good working order, except for a spent leather belt, and the wooden desktop and drawers seem to be in good condition, albeit they could use a little oil.
When mom unveiled it Christmas morning, she was struck. She inspected it from top to bottom, opening the drawers, admiring the ornate designs of this particular model (Model 127 aka The Singer Sphinx). Dad smiled and knew he made the right decision.
Of course, we all know the expensive presents, the Black Friday shopping, the 'gotta-have' gifts is not what Christmas is about. My parents understand that, but they do enjoy getting gifts for the family that have real use and aren't wallet-busters.
The Singer sewing machine is a perfect example.
Mom's "new" treadle sewing machine was made in September of 1917 in Elizabeth, New Jersey (surprisingly, you can research that rather easily with the serial number). The machine has not sat idle, but shows the signs of use and also of care. The drawers contain bits and pieces of fabric, labels, pins and other assorted pieces. Although she didn't sit down and stitch a quilt on Christmas morn, mom has plans for her Singer to get back to work and not merely collect dust. It will add beauty to the house and will be much quieter than today's electric sewing machines.
This got me thinking: How many iPods are going to be in good working condition in the year 2105? (Remember: the Singer is 94 years old.) We could look at the most popular advertisements this holiday season, Consumer Reports, shelves of any mega-box store, or a variety of other places and find very few things being sold today that we can genuinely imagine lasting 94 years or more.
Even now that I'm in my mid-twenties, I still learn lessons on Christmas morning. The lessons used to be about giving, sharing and loving neighbors, or at least cousins. This year, the lesson I learned was to live with less. As retail stores want us to believe the Christmas season is becoming more and more about, well, more and more, may we find ways for it to be about less and less. May we consume less and consume better.
Tyler Amy is the National Coordinator of Renewal - a Christ-centered, creation care network that focuses on inspiring, connecting, and equipping college students in their work on campus. He lives in Buffalo, NY and is eagerly anticipating a warm quilt made by his mother on her new Singer.
By Alexei Laushkin
EEN's 12 Day of Advent Devotional is up at http://creationcare.org. The devotional features the work of two of our relief and development partners Plant with Purpose and Food for the Hungry. As I walk through the devotional a few things have stood out to me.
Many of the passages for reflection are from Isaiah. Isaiah came to a people who did not know the Lord. Isaiah starts out by describing what will happen on "The Day of the Lord."
Isaiah 2:17-18 (NIV)
17 The arrogance of man will be brought low
and human pride humbled;
the LORD alone will be exalted in that day,
18 and the idols will totally disappear.
When I think about the role pride plays in my life, mostly blinding my way from the ways I stray from the Lord, I wonder what it will look like for the pride of all of humanity to be humbled. What are we proud about? Certainly our achievements, our technical accomplishments, our great cities, commerce, but I think in this nation we are most proud of our ability to achieve, specifically achieve apart from any reliance or acknowledgement of God. What will happen when one day we are no longer to achieve apart from the Lord.
I think in some ways that sums up our environmental challenges pretty well. We have challenges that may not be able to overcome without the direct intervention of God. Not in the prevention of a cataclysmic event, but the sort of intervention inspired and envisioned by God for his people; to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a world in need, to proclaim the God of the gospel to those in desperate need.
This takes me to the scripture from Day 2 Isaiah's commission fromthe Lord, "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'" Likewise are when a posture of saying Lord send me, let your will not my will be done. I desire to serve you even to the ends of creation.
by Alexei Laushkin
Advent is upon us, which means Christmas is just around the corner. Advent is the time we sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, and other songs that anticipate the birth of the Messiah.
Yet this season it seems more often than not that we become more harried than hopeful, more stressed than at rest. Why is that? Why is it that the birth of the Messiah fills us with the dread of shopping?
We live in a culture that was once more fully Christian and Christmas is a great reminder of that heritage. Our country closes down at Christmas. No one works, people are with their families, and generally there is a more neighborly spirit in the air. We occasionally fight about Happy Holidays vs. Christmas, but let's be honest, folks people make room for Christmas.
Yet we are not sure what to do with this powerful and lasting cultural by-product. Every year people have to alter their lives for a Christian holy day. Are we willing to bend for them? Are we willing to bend ourselves and our own routines?
In the next Creation Care (due out in December). I've written a piece entitled "Willing to Bend for Jesus?" A point I make in the article, one that I think is essential for present day discipleship is that we must be willing to live fully for Christ in our day to day.
It is time to take a big time out from our present day practice of celebrating Christmas. Forget shopping, forget the travel, forget your to do list, and all that.
Are you expecting a Messiah who came to change this world? the one who came to bring you life? Are you expecting that infant child for whom all the hopes of the nations are placed?
Take time to expect the Messiah, to expect Jesus. In a few days EEN will be launching an Advent series to help those sorts of day to day reflections.
Advent is upon us. This year we have decided to partner with Plant with Purpose and Food for the Hungry to highlight the plight of peoples impacted by severe environmental change. Throughout the next several days we will be putting up a daily story log first with Plant with Purpose than with Food for the Hungry leading up to Christmas Day. Please check back daily and follow along as we follow the lowly infant from Bethlehem.
by Alexei Laushkin
Did you know that half of all the people who have ever lived on the planet are alive right now. In the next 40 years the population of the earth will go from 6 billion to 9 billion.I am not sure we can get our head around big numbers. I might as well say that the nearest star to ours is Proxima Centauri approximately 4.2 light years or 3.97 x 1013 km away. It would mean about as much to you.
Consider this though; there are parts of the world where people are literally eating their way out of a livelihood. In Tanzania once home to some of the finest forests in Africa, locals are increasingly using up their wood for charcoal which they use to heat food. If the local population keeps using wood at the same rate that they are currently using they will depopulate their local forest. At that point they will not be able to make crafts from the trees to sell, the soil will not be fertile enough to plant, the trees will no longer provide a watershed for fresh drinking water, and when the rains come (and they will) local homes will be washed away due to the soil's lack of capacity to hold water.
In the words of Jesus "For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then 'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!"and to the hills, "Cover us!'" Luke 23:29-30. For the people of Tanzania and Kenya a time may be approaching where their pregnant woman will long for the day when the mountains will cave in around them. They will wish that their children were not born to see such an age where people will need to become wanderers in order to survive.
The challenge to development and local missions is lifting people out of self-propitiating cycles of poverty. It's particularly hard when we ourselves are locked in our cycle of material poverty. We have access to so much that we don't know of the things which have real value. Think about Christmas, you'll receive lots of things (clothes, books, gift cards, DVDs, games, etc.). Which of these are truly valuable in a material sense? When you open the gift which of any will you say, hmm" something to hand to my children's children. That's the concept of inheritance. Proverbs says that a good man will leave an inheritance for his children's children. This world that's our common inheritance for our children,in what state will we leave it to them?
This Advent you can do something about these things. Consider giving to one of our partners who are working to lift people out of cycles of poverty into vitreous cycles of lifeand sustainability. Consider the work of our partner Plant with Purpose. Over the past 15 years they have taken deforested villages in Oaxaca Mexico and transformed them into prosperous centers were the people are happy to stay, live, and provide for their families. Check out Scott talking about his work in a recent creation care podcast.
Or the work of our partner Food for the Hungry, in Southeast Asia they are pioneering a rice system intensification method which increases rice yields and reduces the need for pesticides and water.
This Advent season consider giving the gift of life. Our Advent campaign will begin November 18 2010. Check back at http://creationcare.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.